‘Avengers: Endgame’ defeated! Domestic films dominate Chinese mainland box-office top five
Published: Feb 28, 2021 05:04 PM
Moviegoers watch Detective Chinatown 3 at a cinema in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province on the first day of the Year of the Ox. Photo: cnsphoto

Moviegoers watch Detective Chinatown 3 at a cinema in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province on the first day of the Year of the Ox. Photo: cnsphoto

With Detective Chinatown 3 toppling Avengers: Endgame by grossing over 4.25 billion yuan ($656 million) on Saturday, the top five highest-earning films in the Chinese mainland market are now all domestic films. Action film Wolf Warrior 2 remains No.1 followed by animated fantasy film Ne Zha and science fiction film The Wandering Earth respectively No.2 and No3, while the fourth and fifth place are now being filled by the two recent Spring Festival 2021 hits - tearjerker comedy Hi, Mom and slapstick comedy/suspense film Detective Chinatown 3.

The various genres of these charting films demonstrate the diverse nature of the Chinese film market as well as Chinese audiences' demand for multi-cultural themes. It also reflects the boosted confidence that Chinese people have in their culture, Chinese experts said.

The news stirred the excitement of Chinese netizens as many of them took to social media to celebrate. The hashtag "top five at the box office are all homegrown films" has earned 300 million views as of Sunday. 

However, some veteran movie critics pointed out that "satisfactory box office does not mean the films are of high quality, but are mainly the result of pent-up demand for films and an ideal release window during the Spring Festival.

Besides contributing greatly to the success of the top five's two newest entries, the Spring Festival, a major week for the mainland box office, also helped launch The Wandering Earth (2019) to the top list, while Wolf Warrior 2 (2017) and Ne Zha (2019) both premiered during the summer. 

"'Quality' is not directly related to 'box-office performance' as there are multiple criteria to judge a work's 'quality,' such as cinematography, special effects, culture and social impact," Shi Wenxue, a film critic and professor at the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Some netizens also compared the Chinese film market to the US', the two biggest film markets in the world, noting that Chinese films have seen a lot of breakthroughs in various genres while Hollywood seems to be on mute and is still selling old IPs that people are very familiar with such as the recently released Tom &Jerry. 

Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan shows that Tom and Jerry grossed 73.77 million yuan since it was released on Friday.

However, Shi said he disagrees with the idea that "Hollywood has lost its 'Golden halo' in the global market."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted Hollywood production, but only affected the distribution and promotion of Hollywood films in the global market. After the pandemic ends, Hollywood will once again dominate the global film market," said Shi, noting that "but due to the complexity of Hollywood movie schedules, even if the pandemic is effectively controlled in the US, it will take far longer for major US studios to readjust their release schedules." 

Ding Yaping, head of the Film and Television Research Institute at the Chinese National Academy of Arts, echoed Shi's view by saying that Chinese films still have a long way to go compared with the slick industrialization in Hollywood.

"Chinese films are trying to integrate into the world and will surely be able to seek broader market competition and communication space," Ding told the Global Times.

blog comments powered by Disqus