'The Eight Hundred' sets global weekend box office record

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 25, 2020
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China's blockbuster war epic "The Eight Hundred" grossed a staggering 810 million yuan ($117 million) during the opening weekend, making it the world's biggest film to debut in 2020.

A poster of "The Eight Hundred" [Photo courtesy of Huayi Brothers Media]

On its opening day on Friday, it collected 140 million yuan. On Saturday and Sunday, it earned more than 200 million yuan per day. These are the biggest records of daily box office sales in 2020 by any film since movie theaters reopened a month ago following months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The daily box office records during the weekend are also the biggest single-day gross records in the world.

During its five-day preview period, the film earned 233 million yuan at the box office, making it the biggest film in history in terms of advanced screening achievement.

By Monday, 20 million moviegoers in China had watched the movie, according to data compiled by Lighthouse, a box office tracker and film big data platform owned by Alibaba Pictures. 

All screenings are operating at 50% capacity. 

Box office analysts predict that "The Eight Hundred" will eventually gross 1.5 billion yuan to 2.5 billion yuan, a huge triumph for all producers and investors involved, such as Huayi Brothers Media, Alibaba Pictures and Tencent Pictures. Thus "The Eight Hundred" will become the first film to gross over 1 billion yuan after the pandemic.

Set during the last phase of the Battle of Shanghai in 1937, the film recounts the story of the more than 400 Chinese soldiers defending the Sihang Warehouse. This last-stand battle boosted Chinese people's morale amid the aftermath of the retreat of Kuomintang's major forces. To mislead the Japanese enemy, the besieged Chinese troops' commander, Xie Jinyuan, lied to reporters, claiming that he had 800 soldiers, but the actual number was a little more than 400. 

The film is also the first blockbuster shot entirely with IMAX cameras in Asia and the third in the world only behind "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame."

Therefore IMAX also celebrated its strongest weekend at the global box office in six months thanks to "The Eight Hundred." It earned 52.5 million yuan from 650 Chinese IMAX screens. During the first two days of preview screenings, IMAX China sold out tickets to 550 IMAX shows. IMAX has now earned 110 million yuan from 2.1 million admissions to all films with IMAX format versions in China since its locations resumed operations on July 24.

"After being closed for six months, the performance of IMAX theatres at the Chinese box office continues to exceed our expectations and reinforces our belief that audiences are eager to return to theatres where local guidelines allow," said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX, in a statement. "'The Eight Hundred' breaks new ground as the first commercial film in Asia shot entirely with IMAX cameras, and its strong debut marks a significant step in the rebound of the theatrical business in the critically important Chinese market."

Lighthouse statistics show that more than 80% of Chinese cinemas opened again by Aug. 20, and since the reopening of Chinese cinemas one month ago, the one-month box office total has surpassed 1 billion yuan. The strong performance of "The Eight Hundred" has injected great confidence in the film industry, market and audience in terms of the industry's recovery.

Wang Zhonglei, co-founder and CEO of Huayi Brothers Media, speaks at the "Decade-long Devotion to Films - BJIFF 10th Anniversary Forum" held in Beijing during the 10th Beijing International Film Festival, Aug. 23, 2020. [Photo courtesy of BJIFF]

At a forum on Aug. 23, during the ongoing 10th Beijing International Film Festival, Wang Zhonglei, CEO of Huayi Brothers Media and producer of the "The Eight Hundred," points out that a Chinese film has earned the global weekend box office record of 2020.

"When Chinese cinemas reopened, I went to the Chinese film authorities to offer our great films to revive the market. 'The Eight Hundred' is one of our answers," he said, adding that Chinese filmmakers are full of resilience, and the market will recover quickly. 

According to CMC Pictures, a distributor of the film, "The Eight Hundred" is slated for release in North America, Australia, and New Zealand on Aug. 28.

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