Chinese-produced War to Resist US Aggression, Aid Korea blockbuster takes aim at National Day box office
Published: Sep 01, 2021 08:15 PM
A poster of the film the Battle at Lake Changjin shows in a cinema. Photo: VCG

A poster of the film the Battle at Lake Changjin shows in a cinema. Photo: VCG

Chinese-produced epic The Battle at Lake Changjin of the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53) is set to be released in the Chinese mainland on September 30, the film's official Sina Weibo account announced on Wednesday, the day before the remains of Chinese People's Volunteers' Army soldiers were set to be repatriated from South Korea to China on Thursday.

The announcement thrilled many Chinese moviegoers whose passion for movies has been cooled due to the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in China. Film observers predict that the film will be a major blockbuster during the October golden week - the National Day holiday - that will give the Chinese mainland's sluggish box office a boost. 

According to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan, another two eye-catching films - Railway Heroes starring Zhang Hanyu, the lead actor in Chinese Doctors, Me and My Grandparents directed by well-known actress Zhang Ziyi and comedy actor Shen Teng - will also be screened during the National Day holiday. 

The hashtag "The Battle at Lake Changjin gets release date" has been trending on Sina Weibo, earning more than 190 million views as of Wednesday afternoon as many Chinese netizens expressed their high anticipation for the war epic. 

Chinese film observers predict that the box office for the upcoming National Day will surpass 2020's 3.96 billion yuan ($612 million). 

"As long as the box office of Me and Grandparents matches that of 2020's, and Me and My Hometown and The Battle at Lake Changjin lives up to moviegoers' expectations, the box office in the upcoming National Day holiday will surely surpass that of 2020," Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times in Wednesday. 

But Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the Chinese mainland film market is still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, as it can be seen from the box office's poor performance over the summer holiday. It will be quite a challenge for The Battle at Lake Changjin to revitalize the box office on its own and so some stimulus will be needed from imported blockbuster movies to expand the available movie genres and offer viewers more choices.

"If the pandemic can be brought under control, Chinese audiences' long repressed enthusiasm for movie-going will be finally released during this long holiday," Xiao predicted. 

The Battle at Lake Changjin was originally scheduled to be released in August but was postponed due the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Chinese mainland. 

Both film critics noted that the pandemic is the main factor behind the summer's disappointing box office performance, and the other factor includes a lack of high word-of-mouth films.

According to Maoyan, the total box office for the 2021 summer holiday (July-August) was 7.38 billion yuan, a huge drop from 2019's pre-pandemic 17.78 billion yuan.