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Lunar New Year Box Office in China: ‘Lake Changjin II’ Dominant

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Patriotic blockbuster “The Battle at Lake Changjin II” earned just short of $400 million over the Chinese New Year holidays at a mainland China box office that weighed in at some $950 million.

Data from consultancy Artisan Gateway showed “Lake Changjin II” earning $152 million over the Friday to Sunday weekend, comfortably ahead of comedy “Too Cool to Kill” which took $111 million over the same three days. In third place over the weekend was drama “Nice View” with $45.4 million and animation “Boonie Bears: Back to Earth” with $38.8. The Zhang Yimou- and Zhang Mo-directed “Snipers” was fifth over the weekend with $22.7 million.

Data from other sources show that the first three days of the six-day holiday period – Tuesday to Sunday – were the strongest, indicating that the cumulative scores at the end of Sunday are more important.

“Lake Changjin II” completed its first six days in Chinese theaters with $395 million, according to Artisan Gateway. “Too Cool to Kill” earned $217 million ahead of “Nice View” with $104 million, “Boonie Bears” with $88.8 million and “Sniper” with $41.1 million.

Another prominent title, Han Han’s motorbike adventure “Only Fools Rush In” had a strong opening day with $36 million, but it faded rapidly. It finished with $79.3 million after six days, according to data from Ent Group.

“Lake Changjin II” (aka “Watergate Bridge”) dominated proceedings on all six days, but it appears to be scoring more slowly than its predecessor, “The Battle at Lake Changjin” which launched as recently as Oct. 1, 2021, the beginning of China’s National Day holiday season. The first “Lake Changjin” film earned $235 million in its first three days and $633 million over its first ten days.

Ent Group – which arrives at a significantly different six-day cumulative of $422 million for “Lake Changjin II” – reports that the film opened with $103 million on Feb. 1. It followed that with daily scores of $45.7 million, $69.0 million, $56.4 million, $52.4 million and $45.7 million on the five succeeding days.

Imax reports that “The Battle at Lake Changjin II” was its third highest scoring opening in China, behind only “Detective Chinatown III” and “The Wandering Earth.” The film earned $23.3 million of its nationwide total on 729 Imax giant screens, with $14,7 million coming between Tuesday and Thursday and $8.6 million coming between Friday and Sunday. The company said that the film’s Imax total accounted for nearly 6% of the national box office whilst representing only 1% of total screens playing the film.

Overall box office across the country for the six-day holiday period totaled RMB6.01 billion or $946 million by Variety’s calculation, based on daily reports from Alibaba’s Beacon box office tracking service.

Artisan Gateway calculates that China’s year-to-date aggregate box office is now $1.36 billion, or more than double the figure achieved by this date in 2021. But that cannot be considered a like-for-like comparison as the Chinese New Year holidays were roughly two weeks later (Feb. 12, 2021).

A more accurate comparison of the year-on-year running total can only be reached at the end of February, when the holiday season is effectively complete.

Last year’s Chinese New Year season was led by “Detective Chinatown III,” which scored $397 million in just three days, but was later overtaken by sleeper hit “Hi, Mom” which had only $161 million in its first three days. Both films went on to finish their extended runs with over $800 million.