Opportunities for box-office craze
8 films set to release during May Day holidays
Published: Mar 24, 2024 08:26 PM
A girl and an adult stand before movie posters in a cinema during the New Year's Day holidays in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photo: VCG

A girl and an adult stand before movie posters in a cinema during the New Year's Day holidays in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photo: VCG

As of now, a total of eight films has been scheduled for release during China's May Day holidays (May 1-5), accord-ing to film ticketing platform Maoyan. As for the upcoming Qingming Festival from April 4 to 6, a total of seven domestic and foreign films set for release have also captured the public's attention.  

"Holiday seasons have always been a main battleground for film marketing, especially for the gradually recover-ing and robust Chinese market. Many studios choose to release their films during holiday seasons in the hope for better box-office performances, as going to movie theaters has been an increasingly popular choice for families looking to spend time with each other," Zhang Peng, a film researcher at Nanjing University's National Research Center of Cultural Industries, told the Global Times. 

The eight films scheduled for release during the May Day holidays are US action film The Fall Guy by David Leitch, Japanese animated spy action comedy film Spy×Family Code: White, Japanese animated fantasy film Howl's Moving Castle, and domestic films GG Bond: Interstellar Action, Formed Police Unit, The Last Frenzy, Nothing Can't Be Undone by a Hot Pot and Ocean Rescue. 

Following the Spring Festival, the Qingming Festival is the next big holiday season of the year and a window to observe the film market for the first half of the year. The three-day break, during which many new films from both China and abroad are set to release, reflects the industry's expectations for the holiday market. 

Some experts in the industry have noted that this year's Qingming Festival box office not only features a di-verse range of new films but also includes the continuation of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Chinese dra-ma Viva La Vida, which will premiere a week earlier, offering more choices for audiences and potential for a new cinema craze.

The Qingming Festival and May Day holidays are more suitable for family-friendly themes and diverse choices of films. Great hits may not be as easily created as during the Spring Festival holidays season, but the phenome-non of multiple films achieving success together should be more anticipated, noted Zhang.

Alongside Hayao Miyazaki's new film The Boy and the Heron, an Oscar winner, set for release on April 3, six other new films have been scheduled for the upcoming Qingming Festival season: Russian animated fantasy ad-venture The Snow Queen & The Princess and Chinese dramas Dwelling by the West Lake and The Victims, crime thriller Snow Dance starring former member of K-pop group Super Junior Han Geng, comedy Super Villain and thriller Midnight Radio.

"This year's Qingming Festival box office features a greater number and variety of new films compared with previous years, spanning genres such as animation, mystery and comedy. Additionally, with several films releas-ing the week before the Qingming Festival, cinemas will offer a wider selection for audiences during the holidays, said Zhang Tong, a senior analyst at Maoyan Research Institute.

In terms of genres, animation films seem to occupy several spots. The Boy and the Heron as Miyazaki's latest masterpiece, with the endorsement of an Oscar award, has become the most anticipated film for the holiday sea-son. 

The film was officially released in Japan on July 14 and subsequently made its way to North America and other regions, garnering significant success in box-office performance. However, it appeared to have received mixed reviews, so whether the film will enthrall Chinese audiences during the Qingming Festival remains to be seen.

Looking at past Qingming Festival periods, compared with longer holidays like China's May Day and National Day holidays, the Qingming Festival typically features films of relatively smaller scale. According to Zhang, the box-office champion of each Qingming holiday period does not show a pattern in terms of genre, although many industry insiders still have greater expectations for domestic films.