China's box office tops 100M yuan in reopening week

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 28, 2020
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Directors pose for a group photo at a special screening in Beijing on July 24, 2020, to support the first domestic title "A First Farewell" after the COVID-19 shutdown and to support the resumption of cinemas across the country. [Photo/]

Statistics show that during the first week of Chinese cinemas resuming operations, all films in showing earned nearly 110 million yuan ($15.63 million), which indicates the momentum of recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wane in China.

According to Lighthouse, a box office tracker and entertainment big data platform, during the past week, there were about 416,600 screenings arranged across the country, and the total gross of all films is 109.39 million yuan, which means 4.17 million admissions. 

Tencent Pictures and the China Film Director's Guild held a special screening on Friday, the same day Beijing reopened cinemas, where directors, producers and guests watched "A First Farewell," the first domestic release since the reopening of Chinese cinemas in low-risk areas.

"A First Farewell," an 86-minute debut feature by director Wang Lina, is a healing story about three young Uygur children in Xinjiang. "I hope this film can bring a little warmth to everyone," the director said in a pre-recorded video played at the event. She was still in Xinjiang, and her absence was due to a schedule conflict.

"A First Farewell," with most of its dialogue in the Uygur language, topped the China box office on its debut day, earning 4.37 million yuan by midnight on Sunday, regardless of the film’s genre, controlled cinema seating, pandemic prevention measures, and the hesitation of audiences. At the same time, many Chinese cinemas still hadn’t resumed operations.

Last weekend, two new Hollywood blockbusters opened. Universal Pictures' "Dolittle" ended up dominating the market and swept 38.51 million yuan during the first reopening weekend. Sony Pictures' "Bloodshot" came at second, taking in 20.59 million yuan.

Both films have IMAX versions. "Dolittle" earned 3.7 million yuan from 266 IMAX China screens, 11% of the nationwide total despite releasing on only 40% of IMAX screens open at this time in the market. "Bloodshot," distributed by Bona Film Group in China, earned 1.5 million yuan from 228 IMAX China screens, about 7% of the nationwide total.

"We are delighted to welcome Chinese audiences back to the IMAX Experience in low-risk areas and thank the China Film Administration and our exhibition partners for implementing the necessary measures to help keep moviegoers safe and comfortable," said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX Corporation and chairman of IMAX China. "From China to South Korea and across our global network, we are seeing that moviegoers are eager to return to theaters where it is safe to do so and we will be ready to support studios, exhibitors and, most importantly, our fans as theaters continue to reopen around the world."

IMAX China announced that IMAX theaters across China began to resume operations on Friday. As of July 26, a total of 369 of IMAX's more than 700 screens have reopened, with at least 600 IMAX theaters in total expected to reopen by mid-August.

Lighthouse statistics show that more than 5,200 cinemas resumed work by July 27, which accounts for about 47.5% of all Chinese movie theaters. 

Li Jie, senior vice president of Alibaba Pictures and CEO of Taopiaopiao under China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, said on July 25 at the opening forum of the ongoing Shanghai International Film Festival, that the next two weekends will be crucial. 

"We can see that the audience's confidence in returning to cinemas is slowly recovering; in the next two weeks, we are confident that box office income will recover to two-thirds of its value during the same period last year. Audiences have waited for 180 days, and we need to present high-quality content to them in a better way," he said.

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