Wuhan lockdown-inspired movie dominates China’s New Year box office
Published: Jan 03, 2022 07:34 PM
Photo: Maoyan

Photo: Maoyan

 The Chinese mainland box office for the New Year weekend has broken 1 billion yuan ($157 million) as of 9 pm on Monday, ranking the 3rd in Chinese film history's same film period, according to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan. While Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province remains in lockdown, a movie inspired by the Wuhan lockdown rose to the top to dominate the box office.

In light of the robust performance, Chinese film observers are predicting that China will still hold onto the title of "world's largest film market" in 2022.

Maoyan shows that a total of six films were released during the holiday period, with the top three highest-grossing ones being the warm-hearted Embrace Again (315 million yuan), crime and action film G Storm (223 million yuan) and comedy Another Me (223 million yuan.)  

Chinese movie observers noted that the New Year box office hosted a diverse range of films including the genres of romance, comedy, action and family animation. However, it seems that reviews for the films this time are all lower than that in the same period of 2021.

"G Storm cannot be compared with Shock Wave 2, and Another Me is not funnier than the 2020 Warm Hug," Shi Wenxue, a film critic, told the Global Times on Monday.

Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, also pointed out that 2022's New Year films lacked a blockbuster like A Little Red Flower during the 2021 holiday weekend. 

While Embrace Again depicts the love stories of people living through the COVID-19 lockdown in Wuhan from January to March 2020, it did not make a big wave at the box office compared to A Little Red Flower, which grossed 761 million yuan during its three-day opening weekend. 

Both film experts pointed out that a lack of foreign language films in the schedule is one of the biggest characteristics of the New Year weekend.

According to Maoyan, Japanese animation Ponyo was released around the 2021 New Year holiday in the Chinese mainland, while Hollywood's Angel Has Fallen and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse were respectively released in the mainland right before the 2020 and 2019 New Year holidays. However, this time no foreign language films were screened over the New Year. 

"The absence of foreign language films this New Year may be related to the situation that there were not many foreign language films released in China throughout the entirety of 2021. Meanwhile, with more domestic blockbusters rushing to get into the holiday schedule, it left less room for films from overseas," Xiao said. 

The China Film Administration on Saturday released data showing that the Chinese film market in 2021 was the largest in the world at 47.258 billion yuan, with domestic films accounting for 84.49 percent of the total box office. Additionally, the total number of screens ranked first in the world.

"The Chinese film market has continued to wear the crown of the world's largest film market since 2020 amid the global pandemic. This is both the achievement of our country's anti-pandemic measures and the success of Chinese homegrown films. I'm very confident that China can continue holding on to this leading position in 2022," said Shi.