‘Ready Player One’ and ‘Hindi Medium’ lead China’s Qingming Festival box office

By Huang Tingting Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/8 16:58:39

Promotional material for Indian film Hindi Medium Photo: IC

Promotional material for Indian film Hindi Medium Photo: IC


Chinese box office during the three-day Qingming Festival holiday that ran from Thursday to Saturday reached a record-high of 684 million yuan ($108.5 million), a 17 percent year-on-year increase.

Even though a total of six domestic titles hit cinemas over the holiday, imported films powered this year's Qingming Festival box office.

Steven Spielberg's VR-themed Ready Player One and Indian film Hindi Medium - the top two best performers - accounted for more than 72 percent of the box-office and around 50 percent of screenings, followed by monster flick Pacific Rim: Uprising at No.3 and Chinese-Russian animated co-production The Snow Queen 3: Fire and Ice in fourth.

Chinese award-winning thriller Wrath of Silence, which debuted to overall positive reviews praising its sophisticated plotting and in-depth discussion of the human condition, ended up at fifth.

Nostalgic fever

Grabbing 984 million yuan in total as of Saturday, Ready Player One, with its fancy visuals and nods to 1980s pop culture, quickly rose to the top of Chinese box office after hitting mainland cinemas on March 30.

Now holding ratings of 8.9/10 and 8.4/10 respectively on Chinese review platforms Douban and Mtime, the film remains one of the most talked about topics on Chinese social media platforms as movie fans passionately discuss the more than 110 Easter eggs hidden throughout the film.

"Not only movie fans, but also gamers, comic fans and sci-fi fans can find something exciting in this film. Spielberg's imagination is awesome," commented film blogger Yi Zhen on Sina Weibo.

Moreover, to better enjoy the film's visuals and audios, many Chinese moviegoers were willing open their wallets for pricier IMAX or Dolby Cinema tickets to watch the film. The film is currently showing in more than 500 IMAX cinemas across the Chinese mainland.

"Normally I would not choose a particular type of screen, but this time I heard from friends who had watched Ready Player One that the film's visuals are fantastic and that's why I and many of my friends chose the IMAX version," Liu Bing, a Beijing-based moviegoer, told the Global Times.

Cultural resonance

Another winner at the box office was Hindi Medium, the third Indian film imported into Chinese mainland this year following Aamir Khan's highly successful Secret Superstar in January and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, starring Bollywood star Salman Khan, in March.

Pulling in 124 million yuan by Saturday, the 2017 film starring Irrfan Khan raked in more than 21 million yuan when it debuted in Chinese mainland theaters on Wednesday to claim the second highest first-day opening for an Indian film in China following Secret Superstar.

Following the story of an Indian couple doing all they can to get the best education for their primary school aged daughter, the film, now holding a Douban rating of 8.1/10, sparked wide discussion on Chinese social media platforms.

"Many Chinese parents of primary school children, especially those living in first-tier cities, quickly relate to the anxious parents in the movie who run into a lot of barriers and embarrassing situations while choosing schools for their girl," wrote Douban user Zts.

"I think Hindi Medium is great as it tries to tackle social issues in a humorous way," wrote Sina Weibo user Anan's Big Dream.

"I always learn a little bit about their culture from Indian films."

The film's title is translated as Qipaoxian in Chinese, or Starting Line - a term often used by Chinese parents in the phrase "don't let the kids lose at the starting line" when talking about the importance of children's elementary education.

"The film, similar to Aamir Khan films that succeeded in China, is a comedy that tackles social reality," Chinese film critic Fei Se told the Global Times.

"Hindi Medium has great market potential in China as the story also tackles issues like the commercialization of education and the class system, which can easily resonate with Chinese audiences. Moreover, its lead actor Irrfan Khan, who starred in Hollywood blockbusters such as Life of Pi and Jurassic World, is a known name to many Chinese moviegoers," Fei said.
Newspaper headline: Holiday blowout


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