'Avatar 2' might prove less popular with Chinese viewers than 'The Wandering Earth 2': Bona CEO
Published: Dec 20, 2022 11:07 PM
Promotional material for 21st Century Fox's Avatar Photo: IC

Promotional material for 21st Century Fox's Avatar Photo: IC

The CEO of Chinese film giant Bona Film Group Yu Dong has said foreign language films like Avatar: The Way of Water can no longer meet the appetites of Chinese moviegoers. Instead, domestic films with local Chinese stories have more appeal. He said The Wandering Earth 2 could beat Avatar 2 at the box office.

Yu made the comments at a forum, media reports said, and it quickly became a hot topic on Chinese social media with some critics and analysts agreeing.

Avatar: The Way of Water was expected to boost the Chinese film market, but it only grossed 456 million yuan ($65.47 million) on its fifth day of screening in the Chinese mainland, according to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan.

Estimates for the box office of the Hollywood blockbuster have been falling, and now "it would not be bad if it can surpass 1 billion yuan," Liu Zhenfei, a data analyst from Maoyan, told the Global Times.

Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times that the poor performance of Avatar 2 cannot only be blamed on the current COVID-19 flare-ups as the government has eased the COVID-19 policy for Chinese cinemas. It is also because the story in the fantasy epic sequel is not that attractive, even with the support of the dazzling special effects, Shi said.

Shi said that domestic films like The Wandering Earth can enchant Chinese audiences, with both solid word-of-mouth and strong box office performance.

The Wandering Earth 2 starring Wu Jing is set to be screened in January next year and anticipation is building.

However, some Chinese reviewers who have watched Avatar 2 expressed doubts about Yu's remarks, saying that it is still a good movie with great special effects.

"If you want to watch a film that can delight your eyes, Avatar 2 is definitely a good choice," one netizen said on Weibo.

Although it will be hard for Avatar 2 to match the popularity of the original, it still has a good chance of leading the 2022 box office in China, the world's second-largest film market, a film critic surnamed Cheng told the Global Times.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the number of foreign-language films released in the Chinese film market has decreased a lot.

Liu explained that the production of films has been impacted due to the global pandemic, leading to a declining number of films being released.

Meanwhile, Chinese moviegoers are more likely to watch films based on word-of-mouth recommendations, making them more wary of foreign-language films.