Chinese mainland box office sees new records during Spring Festival period
As of 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, the Chinese mainland box office had earned a total of 3.11 billion yuan (2 million) during the Spring Festival holiday box-office period (January 28 - February 2), outperforming the 3 billion yuan earned during the 2016 Spring Festival period (February 8-13).
The Spring Festival holiday is a vital period for the mainland box office. In 2016, the holiday helped the mainland box office surpass the North American market by 2 billion yuan for the month of February.
This year's holiday also saw some new records. Total box office on the first day of the Chinese New Year (January 28) reached a surprising high of 802 million yuan, 1.62 million yuan higher than 2016 and a new record for single day earnings in the mainland. Additionally, the second and third day of the Chinese New Year each grossed more than 500 million yuan.
Five films premiered on January 28. Of these, Journey to the West: Demons Fight Back remains king of the holiday period with 1.06 billion yuan, followed by Kung Fu Yoga (743.28 million yuan) and Buddies in India (529.68 million yuan) as of Thursday morning.
Bringing in 356 million yuan its opening day, Demons Fight Back not only broke the record set by The Mermaid (316 million yuan), a Chinese fantasy romance film from Hong Kong director Stephen Chow that hit theaters during the 2016 Spring Festival, but also surpassed Furious 7's 346 million yuan opening day record to become the single day box-office champion in the Chinese mainland.
One of the highest earning periods in China for film, the majority of movies released during the Spring Festival are domestic productions. While there were some foreign challengers, they failed to make a dent compared to the homegrown competition. French Canadian animation Ballerina released near the end of the holiday period on Wednesday, but the high rating foreign film did little to distract moviegoers from domestic blockbusters. Even Arrival, the Oscar nominated sci-fi film, didn't make much of a splash over the holiday. Premiering in the mainland on January 20, Arrival has only earned 103.38 million yuan as of Thursday morning.
While holiday revenue has been high, review scores have not. The five domestic films released on January 28 have received middling reviews, with the highest reviewed film on Chinese media review site Douban being Duckweed (6.9/10) and the lowest being Buddies in India (3.9/10).
Some industry insiders have pointed out that this year's high box office was largely due to ticket promotions on online ticket selling platforms. Take the film Buddies in India for example; tickets for the film sold for as little as 8.8 yuan on dianying.taobao.com and 9.9 yuan on maoyan.com, according to a report from Chinese financial site cfi.cn.