Holiday box office hits record high as people throng to theaters
Published: May 05, 2021 06:38 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China's box office during the May Day holiday set a new high of 1.6 billion yuan ($247 million), breaking the 1.52 billion yuan record of 2019 and signaling the country's rapid recovery from the coronavirus' fallout.

Despite the absence of Hollywood blockbusters, with the launch of 13 new films during the holiday -- also a record -- domestic movies drove the trend.

The jump was a follow-up of the 7.84 billion yuan box office boom recorded in the Spring Festival two months ago, and also a significant rise from the 5.9 billion yuan sales seen for the same holiday in 2019.

Experts said that the new record was within expectations, and China will likely continue to lead the global film market recovery in terms of box office in the first half of the year, given the pent-up demand among Chinese urbanities.

The May Day period, as a long holiday between the Spring Festival holiday and the National Day holiday, has always been significant for the release of new films. But in previous years, it was dominated by foreign films -- Avengers: Endgame, for example, took more than 80 percent of the box office in 2019. The trend saw a change this year after the pandemic.

China's box office on Wednesday reached 1.603 billion yuan, with My Love taking 490 million yuan and Impasse raking in 474 million yuan, accounting for about 60 percent of the total box office, data released by the State Film Administration showed.

Hollywood movies shouldn't make much of a difference in domestic box office sales, and with the many new movies released during the May Day holiday, it was unlikely that Hollywood movies would be able to compete, Chen Changye, manager of a state-owned film company, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Experts said that the holiday box office performance had few surprises.

In 2019, ticket sales hit 1.57 billion yuan during a four-day May Day holiday, while this year's holiday lasted for five days -- which indicates that the overall market has not fully recovered to the level of 2019, Chen said.

Also, unlike the Qingming Festival one month ago, May Day travel demand was far greater, which stole part of the demand for cinema tickets, experts say.

Despite the booming demand, the domestic film industry is not yet fully recovered, Chen said. Film and TV program production companies are still in the recovery stage.

Some people have become accustomed to watching films online instead of going to theaters, experts said. There is also a segment of the audience in China that only watches Hollywood movies, and when those movies are absent, they won't go to the cinema, Yun Feiyang, a movie industry critic, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Yun predicted that the box office in the first half of 2021 will exceed 20 billion yuan, and although it is difficult to break through 30 billion yuan as some have projected, China is likely to remain the largest box office market in the world.

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