Holiday fuels China's box office revenue growth

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China's box office revenue in the first four days of the ongoing eight-day national holiday reached 2.5 billion yuan (about 368 million U.S. dollars) despite epidemic prevention and control measures, according to film ticketing and data platform Maoyan.

After months of closure due to COVID-19, Chinese theaters reopened on July 20 with a cap on their operating capacities that has been gradually raised to the present 75 percent.

The country saw more than 62.4 million moviegoers from Oct. 1 to 4, with box office revenue close to the figure of the same period last year, which stood at 2.9 billion yuan.

According to estimates from Orient Securities, box office revenue during the holiday will hit 4 billion yuan and is expected to reach the level of the same period last year, thereby driving the movie industry toward a gradual recovery.

The traditional weeklong National Day holiday, which starts on Oct. 1, coincided with the Mid-Autumn Festival this year, extending the holiday to eight days.

Various Genres

The films hitting big screens during the holiday offer a wide range of genres and subject matters, meeting the pent-up demand of viewers, analysts said.

Released on Oct. 1, the domestic comedy feature "My People, My Homeland" tells five stories about people's love for their homeland. It had pocketed 1.07 billion yuan as of Sunday, rocketing to second place on the country's 2020 box office chart, behind the epic war drama "The Eight Hundred," which was released in late August, according to Maoyan.

"Leap," a biographical film depicting the multi-generational struggle of the Chinese women's volleyball team to secure glory for the nation, was released in late September and had raked in over 500 million yuan as of Sunday.

Other blockbusters include "Legend of Deification," an animation film revolving around a mythological figure Jiang Ziya, "Vanguard," a Chinese action movie starring Jackie Chan, and "Coffee or Tea?", a movie about young entrepreneurs starting e-commerce businesses in their underdeveloped hometown.

Resurgence of Cinemas

Despite mandatory epidemic containment measures in cinemas, such as requiring audiences to wear masks and undergo temperature checks, many managers are sanguine about the prospects of the film market.

According to Wang Wenjun, manager of the Jiangmen Performing Arts Center, a cinema of the center in Jiangmen in southern Guangdong Province has been bracing itself for an expected spike in moviegoers during the national holiday.

The cinema has increased the frequency of disinfection and prepared cleaners and disinfectants for audiences.

The 1,500-seat cinema received more than 1,300 moviegoers on Oct. 1 and recorded over 40,000 yuan of box office revenue on the following day, the highest since it resumed operation, according to Maoyan data.

"Attendance rose significantly during the holiday," said Wang, adding that he believes the worst is already behind the industry while the future looks bright.

Bai Peipei, manager of the Oscar Shenglong International Cinema in Xi'an in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, was optimistic about the prospects for recovery.

"It's good that the movies are of high quality and the audiences are back during the holiday," Bai said. "I believe that cinemas will gradually return to normal operations."

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