China Focus: Hopes on upcoming summer releases as China's Duanwu Festival box office disappoints

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by Xinhua writer Zhang Yunlong

BEIJING, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Hopes are pinned on upcoming releases, including highly anticipated titles, to bolster the Chinese mainland summer box office after the Duanwu Festival holiday ended Monday with weak gains.

The total box office revenue over the holiday, also known as Dragon Boat Festival, stood at 383 million yuan (about 53.84 million U.S. dollars), which is the third lowest for this period in the past decade, only surpassing 2022 and 2020, according to box office tracker Maoyan on Tuesday.

In a research note shared with Xinhua, Zhang Tong, a senior analyst at the Maoyan Research Institute, attributed the disappointing figures to a lack of commercial blockbusters akin to last year's crime thriller "Lost in the Stars."


Teen comedy "Be My Friend" grossed over 71 million yuan, or 18.6 percent of the total, to top the holiday chart.

Following closely were the crime comedy "Walk the Line" and the Hong Kong-set drama "Crisis Negotiators," which earned nearly 69 million yuan and 51 million yuan, respectively.

George Miller's "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga," the latest installment of the post-apocalyptic action franchise "Mad Max," only managed to secure sixth place with 25 million yuan.

Even more surprising, it fell short of surpassing the performance of the U.S. animation "The Garfield Movie," which premiered on June 1 and amassed 50 million yuan over the holiday period.

"None of the new releases managed to surpass the 100-million mark in box office earnings," remarked Zhang. "The overall performance of the releases fell short of expectations."

She noted that this year's Duanwu Festival saw a plethora of films, spanning various genres including comedy, action, suspense, and animation, both domestic and imported. However, there was a dearth of commercial blockbusters capable of igniting the market.

Reviewing the concluding box office tallies, in contrast to the previous year's standout "Lost in the Stars," this year lacked a "flagship film," she said.

Starring Zhu Yilong, "Lost in the Stars" amassed over 500 million yuan during the 2023 Duanwu Festival holiday, significantly boosting the period's box office total to more than 900 million yuan.


Industry observers view the Duanwu Festival holiday as the kickoff for the summer box office season, the longest single seasonal slot in the Chinese mainland film industry, spanning June 1 to August 31.

With a lackluster start, hopes are now pinned on upcoming releases.

According to movie data platforms Maoyan and Beacon, the scheduled films for the summer season showcase a diverse array of genres.

The domestic lineup includes "Black Dog," fresh from its Cannes accolades, the popular fiction-adapted drama "Moments We Shared," the Hong Kong-set action movie "Customs Frontline," and "White Snake III," the third installment of Light Chaser Animation's White Snake film series.

Highlights on the import front include the Japanese anime "Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle," and American animations "Inside Out 2" and "Despicable Me 4."

Beacon analyst Chen Jin notes that the traditional summer box office peak period spans from late June to mid-August, and the market is currently awaiting the release of more films. Enditem

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