China’s cultural, movie industries get off to active start during holidays
Carry on New Year resolutions
Published: Jan 01, 2024 08:38 PM
Promotional material for <em>Jonny Keep Walking</em> Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Promotional material for Jonny Keep Walking Photo: Courtesy of Douban

The cultural and tourism industries as well as the domestic film market have experienced a vibrant start during the three-day New Year holidays, as people across the country anticipated the new year's celebrations.

According to China's Dengta Data statistics on Monday, the total box office takings for screenings as of New Year's Day reached a staggering 1.408 billion yuan ($198.91 million), a remarkable year-on-year growth of 131.72 percent compared to the same period in 2023, surpassing the 2021 New Year's box office revenue at 1.303 billion yuan. The soaring figures indicate an increasing enthusiasm among audiences for culture, tourism and films in the new year.

At the same time cities nationwide have witnessed unprecedented fervor around spontaneous New Year's Eve countdown events. City centers were packed with crowds, and infectious enthusiasm permeated the public. For many, the lively scenes rarely seen in recent years underscore people's anticipation for a new beginning in the new year. 

From family gatherings to festivities among friends, people celebrated the passing of 2023 while looking forward to promising times ahead.

The explosive performance of the cultural, tourism and film markets during the New Year holidays not only injected vitality into the industries' ­development, but also brought a unique entertainment feast for society. 

Promotional material for <em>Shinning for One Thing</em>  Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Promotional material for Shinning for One Thing Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Jubilant film market

The New Year holidays also further boosted the film market due to the diversity of films on offer. Film experts told the Global Times on Monday that this New Year's box office was the highest grossing in the history of the industry and is ­expected to surpass 1.5 billion yuan over the holiday period, setting a new record. They mentioned that audience enthusiasm for watching movies has returned.

Romance film Shinning for One Thing, comedy film Jonny Keep Walking, and action film I Did It My Way, all domestically produced films, were the three top offerings at the box office, according to ticketing platform Maoyan. 

This aligns with annual data released by the China Film Administration on Monday. Box office takings from 73 films exceeded 100 million yuan throughout the year, 50 of which were domestic productions. The top 10 films in terms of box office earnings were all domestically produced, with Full River Red, The Wandering Earth II and No More Bets taking the top three spots.

Yin Tengyu, a senior analyst at Maoyan, told the Global Times on Monday that the New Year's holiday has always been a highly ritualistic period, and the film offerings fit well with the festive atmosphere, further inspiring the audience's sense of ritual through movie watching.

He expects the total box office for this New Year's period to exceed 1.5 billion yuan.

Shi Wenxue, a film critic and judge with the Beijing International Film Festival, told the Global Times on Monday that the genres of film are diversified, including comedies like Jonny Keep Walking and If You Are the One 3, action films like I Did It My Way and The Goldfinger starring Tony Leung and Andy Lau, romance films like Shinning for One Thing as well as the re-release of My Love and the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour breaking numerous box office and award records globally. This diverse lineup caters to different audience groups, satisfying various viewers' needs.

Looking at the overall data for 2023, the box office recovered with optimistic results, and audience enthusiasm for movie-watching has returned. Although the success of one period does not necessarily forecast the box office performance of another period, the upcoming Spring Festival film season, as per the currently anticipated lineup, will offer even more variety than that of the New Year holiday period, creating anticipation, Shi noted. 

The popularity of New Year holiday movies in 2024 was foreseeable, as the National Film Administration announced the important indicators for the Chinese film industry in 2023 on Monday. The movie box office earnings for the whole of 2023 totaled 54.915 billion yuan, of which the domestic box office reached 46.005 billion yuan, accounting for 83.77 percent of total earnings.

Promotional material for <em>I Did It My Way</em>  Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Promotional material for I Did It My Way Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Celebrated nationwide

The recent popularity of ice tourism has not only ignited people's interest in winter sports, but also increased the volume of domestic tourism in Northeast China. 

On the street in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, a Guinness World Record was broken on New Year's Eve when hundreds of people danced to the recent influential Subject 3.

Similar countdown events happened in cities such as Tianjin and Wuhan. Hundreds of thousands of people crammed into Hanjiang street in Wuhan to join the event, where in some videos on China's Douyin platform, countless celebrants could be seen counting down to the New Year on Sunday evening.

The East Lake Scenic Area in Wuhan witnessed more than 1 million visitors during 2023, according to public data. 

The city of Tianjin was another popular destination for young people to celebrate New Year's Eve.

"After this summer's Tianjin diving grandpas went viral on China's social media, the city has become a popular destination for many young people from nearby cities to spend holidays and weekends," a Beijing-based Tianjin local surnamed Liu told the Global Times on Monday.

"And right after I saw the announcement of the countdown event, I invited my friends to come to Tianjin for the New Year celebration," she said. 

"We have seen the open-air concert and the young people in traditional Chinese clothes hanfu, and the whole atmosphere was exceptional."

Promotional material for <em>Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour</em> Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Promotional material for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Photo: Courtesy of Douban