China’s 2024 Spring Festival film season leaves audiences satisfied
Published: Feb 17, 2024 10:13 PM
Promotional material for movie Pegasus 2 Photo: Courtesy of Maoyan

Promotional material for movie Pegasus 2 Photo: Courtesy of Maoyan

Saturday not only marked the last day of China's 2024 Spring Festival holiday, but also closed out the eight-day domestic film period, which saw a total gross of over 8 billion yuan ($1.11 billion). 

The data is overtly encouraging and matches with the results seen in a recent survey released by the China Film Art Research Center and data intelligence product provider Endata. According to the survey, 85.9 percent of participants expressed that they were satisfied with the domestic films that debuted during this holiday season. 

"Diversity" and "good themes" were the two most decisive factors that won audiences' hearts, Lu Jingci, a film and TV industry insider, told the Global Times. 

Directed by and starring the country's top-grossing female filmmaker Jia Ling, comedy film YOLO was the box-office champion with a take of 2.7 billion yuan. 
It documents the transformation of a woman who was once unemployed but later discovers new meaning in her life through boxing. 

The picture's focus on "female strength" has made it both a domestic blockbuster and a rising star in the overseas market as Sony Pictures recently acquired the film's international distribution rights. 

"I don't think audiences liked the film due to its story so much as they simply just enjoyed its positive spirit, which catered to the Spring Festival's ambiance," Zhu Jiuxun, a cultural industry marketer, told the Global Times. 

Zhou said that the news about Jia's successful weight loss was like a "successful commercial campaign" fueling YOLO's reputation.  

Other than YOLO, the Spring Festival film slate was dominated by another comedy blockbuster Pegasus 2, as well as Zhang Yimou's drama film Article 20 and Boonie Bears: Time Twist, a hit animation contributing to the film season's diversity. 

Boonie Bears: Time Twist topped the highly anticipated Article 20 with a total gross of 1.4 billion yuan. The reason for its success lies not only with the fact that Boonie Bears is the country's most profitable animated franchise, but also that the animation "is able to embrace a larger demographic, especially young people and children," Lu emphasized. 

Ma Yiling, a 27-year-old moviegoer in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, told the Global Times that she had seen all the aforementioned films during her holiday break and what surprised her the most was that these films reflected Chinese filmmakers' "understanding of the preference of Chinese audiences."

"Although they tell different stories, these films all adhere to Chinese values, such as the belief in justice behind Article 20. I prefer heartwarming Chinese stories more than fancy Hollywood films during this family-orientated festival season," Ma remarked. 

The burgeoning Spring Festival film season has also intensified the competition between films. 

Several productions, including the highly anticipated satirical comedy The Movie Emperor featuring superstar Andy Lau, had announced they were withdrawing from the season. 
"Such a scenario reflects that a film's anticipated market gross may be overshadowed by the extreme competitiveness of the Spring Festival film period. In other words, The Movie Emperor will have an increased possibility to be a box-office champion if it debuts after the holiday season," Lu said. 

Besides The Movie Emperor, two other films - romance drama Viva La Vida and animated film Ba Jie - also chose to pull from the Spring Festival period. 

According to Maoyan, China's major ticketing office platform, a total of 161 million tickets were sold during the Spring Festival holiday period, a new record for the holiday.  
The populous Spring Festival movie season has also shed light on the future of the annual domestic box office. 

The box office for 2024, including pre-sales, has so far exceeded 10 billion yuan. 

This positive momentum was achieved with the contributions of other impressive domestic productions like Johnny Keep Walking! and the crime film The Goldfinger starring award-winning actor Tony Leung.