China Box Office: Theaters Await Valentine’s Day

Mainland China’s cinema box office slowed to a lukewarm $75 million nationwide total over the weekend as theaters awaited new titles to replace the blockbusters that dominated January’s Lunar New Year holiday season.

Sci-fi thriller “The Wandering Earth 2” held on to the top spot for the second weekend with a $24.5 million haul between Friday and Sunday, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway.

It was the second weekend that it managed to hold off the Zhang Yimou-directed “Full River Red,” which earlier topped the Lunar New Year charts and is the highest grossing film of the year. Over the latest weekend, “Full River Red” earned $18.9 million.

Both titles were released on Jan 22. “Full River Red” now has a cumulative of $624 million. “The Wandering Earth 2” has a running total of $538 million.

They were followed by Chinese animation “Boonie Bears: Guardian Code,” which earned $9 million over the weekend, for a $199 million cumulative since Jan. 22. Children’s animation film “Deep Sea” earned $7.9 million for a £112 million cumulative.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had an unusual Tuesday release in Chinese cinemas. Over the Friday-Sunday weekend, it earned $6 million in fifth place. After six days on release it has a cumulative of $12 million.

Gross revenues in Chinese cinemas so far this year now total $1.87 billion, according to Artisan Gateway. As the different timings of the Lunar New Year unwind the year-on-year comparisons begin to become more meaningful. As of Feb. 12, the 2023 total was some 18% ahead of 2022.

As many as six new romance and youth-oriented titles will release on Tuesday, in time for the Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day festivities, and provide audiences with a fresh choice for the first time in three weeks. Their impact, however, may be short-lived.

A crop of more weighty titles will release on Friday. These include Marvel’s “Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Journal of the Party Secretary” and, the likely winner, sports drama “Ping-Pong of China.”

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