Strong outing for Dragon Boat box office
2023 traditional festival brings in second-highest earnings for period
Published: Jun 25, 2023 09:33 PM
Promotional material for <em>Love Never Ends</em> Photo: Courtesy of Maoyan

Promotional material for Love Never Ends Photo: Courtesy of Maoyan

The just-concluded Dragon Boat Festival film period achieved astonishing results at the Chinese mainland box office by grossing 909 million yuan ($127 million) in three days, the second-highest earnings for the holiday, the China Film Administration announced on Sunday. 

Chinese film analysts told the Global Times that high-quality films as well as Chinese audience's improved movie-watching habits could continue benefiting the robust development of the Chinese film market.

Official data shows that 22.49 million moviegoers saw films during the holiday and that 80.08 percent of the box office was contributed by domestic films, led by Chinese suspense crime film Lost in the Stars and domestic romance Love Never Ends.

Chen Jin, an analyst at Beacon, a ticketing platform under Alibaba Pictures, told the Global Times on Sunday that the "surprising" performance of the Dragon Boat holiday shows that the film market is experiencing a quick recovery while also boosting confidence in the film industry.

Lost in the Stars, starring Chinese actors Zhu Yilong and Ni Ni, has been consecutively leading the daily box office since its premiere on Thursday. By Saturday, it had grossed 507 million yuan.

Adapted from the Soviet film A Trap for Lonely Man, the movie tells the story of a wife who mysteriously disappears during their overseas trip but suddenly "turns up" just as her husband's search for her comes to nothing.

As of Sunday, the film had grossed 602 million yuan, surpassing Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which has earned 556 million yuan over the past 17 days.

"Lost in the Stars contributed about 50 percent to the total box office, which is very impressive," Liu Peng, a data analyst from Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Its single day box office premiere surpassed 150 million yuan, only lower than that of Spring Festival blockbusters Full River Red (405 million yuan) and The Wandering Earth 2 (479 million yuan). 

According to Liu's analysis, the combination of the popular suspense genre, outstanding plot, top-level cast and solid reviews made the film stand out. Based on current data, Lost in the Stars is expected to gross 1.42 billion yuan in total.

The studio behind the film has also announced that the movie will be released in Australia on July 6, North America on July 7 and New Zealand on July 13.

Love Never Ends, starring veteran actors Ni Dahong, Kara Wai, Tony Leung and Ye Tong, pocketed 106 million yuan during the holiday, allowing it to take second place on the box-office chart.

According to Liu, director Han Yan filmed the fine sentiment of helplessness and affection of elderly people in love, making it a successful example of a romance between people in their golden years. The film is expected to bring in about 300 million yuan.

The two films were followed by US science fiction action film Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, domestic film Never Say Never directed by and starring famous actor Wang Baoqiang and Warner Bros' The Flash, according to the China Film Administration.

Hollywood films, including Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, The Flash, Elemental, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse and Fast X, further enriched Chinese moviegoers' viewing choices.

The two analysts noted that the continued introduction of high-quality films across a variety of genres is the main factor behind the success of the holiday period. The continued output of well-made films is needed to further cultivate audiences' long-term movie-watching habits and thereby promote the quality and reasonable growth of quantity in the Chinese film market, experts said.

The Dragon Boat Festival draws to a perfect end the first half of 2023 when it comes to film. More new films set for the summer holiday period such as The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell, Creation of the Gods: Kingdom of Storms and Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One are sure to make for a strong start to the second half of the year.