8 movies set for Spring Festival
Authority promotes first micro-drama holiday period
Published: Jan 28, 2024 11:16 PM
Photo: Courtesy of movie <em>Yolo</em>

Photo: Courtesy of movie Yolo

A total of eight films are set to hit Chinese theaters during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, the longest film season ever with eight days in 2024. 

A majority of the films slated for the period are comedies featuring popular stars, which experts say is sure to offer a joyful Chinese New Year to moviegoers.

According to the Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan, comedy Pegasus 2 is currently the most anticipated film. Chinese comedian Shen Teng plays a washed-up racing driver who leads a group to take part in a race mixed with fun and tears. 

Another comedy set to take theaters by storm is Yolo, directed by and starring Chinese veteran actress Jia Ling, whose film Hi, Mom was the second highest-grossing box office film during the holiday period in 2021. In this movie, Jia plays a boxer who takes on a turbulent challenge. 

Jia recently became a trendy topic for her remarkable weight loss announcement on China's X-like Sina Weibo, in which she claimed she had lost 50 kilograms. However, she noted that the film is not about boxing or losing weight, but rather is a warm-hearted story about "learning to love yourself."

Chinese director Zhang Yimou's film, Article 20, centered around prosecutor Han Ming's series of unfortunate events, draws its name from the 20th article of the criminal law regarding "justifiable defense." Following the success of Full River Red in 2023, Article 20 is also highly anticipated by Chinese moviegoers.

Comedy The Movie Emperor starring Andy Lau portrays the challenges faced by a major movie star, highlighting the communication issues faced by different groups and connecting with social media trends.

One of the few films that is not a comedy, Viva La Vida tells the story of two young individuals with serious illnesses on a healing journey filled with love and strength.

Additionally, animated films Boonie Bears: Time Twist and Ba Jie are also set for the holiday period. The Boonie Bears series is known for its comedic and educational content, making it a standout among comedies. 

Scheduled for release on February 16, Hong Kong crime film Break War features a confrontation between a criminal and the police, providing an appealing experience for fans of tense and thrilling stories.

It is worth mentioning that the release date of US hit singer Taylor Swift's film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour has been delayed until March 1 in the Chinese mainland.

Analyst Zhang Tong from the Maoyan Research Institute told the Global Times on Sunday that the strong comedic elements of this year's holiday films are sure to lead to intense competition in the genre. Considering the consistent performance of these comedy lineups, high box-office results are expected.

Comparing 2024's films with previous Chinese New Year blockbusters like Full River Red and The Wandering Earth 2, the budget of this year's films is relatively average. 

The availability of other entertainment options, such as travel, might reduce the allure of cinemas for audiences, which might pose a challenge when it comes to surpassing the total box office of the film season in 2023 - 6.77 billion yuan ($954 million), Shi Wenxue, a film critic and judge with the Beijing International Film Festival, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In addition to regular cinema releases, the National Radio and Television Administration also introduced high-quality micro-dramas for the holiday season. Themed "travel with micro-dramas," they aim to establish a new trend and cultural phenomenon during the holiday period.

Media reports that the domestic micro-drama market reached 37.39 billion yuan in 2023, nearly 70 percent of the total box office of the domestic film market that same year.

Shi said that the promotion of films on short video platforms could attract more users to theaters, creating a new "incremental market." 

This opportunity aligns with the emerging trend of "micro-dramas plus cultural tourism," fostering a new mode of consumption and encouraging people to explore different locations inspired by popular micro-dramas during the holiday season.