Hope pinned on epic war film lifting China's summer box office

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A poster of "The Battle at Lake Changjin." [Photo courtesy of Bona Film Group]

Much hope has been pinned on "The Battle at Lake Changjin," the war epic jointly directed by Chen Kaige, Hark Tsui and Dante Lam -- all big names in the Chinese film industry -- of lifting China's slowly growing summer box office.

Calling the film's release, set for Aug. 12, a shot in the arm of the box office, an article newly carried by the Weibo account of China Film News voiced hope that the major production would serve as the bellwether in leading medium- and small-budget films to further boost the market's monthly sales total.

A total revenue of just 5.3 billion yuan (about 819 million U.S. dollars) was recorded in the June-July period this year. While in the pre-COVID-19 2019, the summer movie season from June through August recorded over 17.7 billion yuan, according to box office tracker the China Movie Data Information Network.

The article cited a senior executive of a movie theater chain based in east China's Zhejiang Province as saying that this summer box office's success is largely hinged on whether "The Battle at Lake Changjin" would perform as well as or even better than the 2020 war film "The Eight Hundred," the yearly top earner that garnered 3.1 billion yuan.

"The Battle at Lake Changjin" follows the Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) in a courageous battle during the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-1953).

It features a star-studded cast led by Wu Jing and Jackson Yee and tells the story of CPV soldiers fighting bravely in freezing temperatures in a key campaign around Changjin Lake.

More than 400,000 internet users on film data platform Maoyan have expressed interest in seeing the film as of Wednesday.

China's 2021 box office revenue topped 31 billion yuan as of Wednesday, a mark that was crossed this year more than a month later than in 2019, according to data by box office tracker Maoyan. 

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