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China Box Office Tops 215 Mln USD Over May Holiday, Craves More Hits

By Xinhua|May 07,2024

Director Zhang Yimou (2nd R), actress Ma Li (2nd L), actor Lei Jiayin (1st R) and Liu Yaowen pose for a group photo on the red carpet of the 14th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) in Beijing, capital of China, April 18, 2024. (Photo/Chen Zhonghao, Xinhua)

by Xinhua writer Zhang Yunlong

Beijing - "China's May Day holiday, running from May 1 to 5, supplied plentiful films -- a diverse mix of domestic, foreign, live-action, animation, comedy and action titles," said Yin Hong, vice chairman of the China Film Association and a professor at the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication, summarizing the 2024 May Day box office to Xinhua.

He noted that robust box office figures have once again demonstrated that cinema visits are a ritual in holiday entertainment and cultural consumption.

Data from the China Film Administration shows the Chinese mainland box office raked in an impressive 1.527 billion yuan (215 million U.S. dollars) from May 1 to 5. That's up from last year's May Day holiday but below the over-1.6-billion-yuan record set in 2021. This year's holiday takings were on par with those of 2019 and ranked among the top-three box offices on record for the lucrative seasonal stretch.

Film data platforms Maoyan and Beacon noted that the total number of screenings during this year's May Day period reached a record high of 2.37 million.

Domestic action picture "Formed Police Unit," spotlighting China's peacekeeping police missions on foreign soil, topped the charts at 406 million yuan, closely tailed by "The Last Frenzy," a comedy about a dying man's last hurrah, which came in at 392 million yuan.

Hong Kong-set crime flick "Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In" grossed 255 million yuan to take third place.

"Comedies have become an essential audience need in the film market," said China Film Critics Association President Rao Shuguang, noting that the box office performance of "The Last Frenzy" supports this view, which is held by many critics. "As long as a comedy is of decent quality, it can spark a moviegoing craze."

Japanese animated comedy "Spy x Family Code: White" and Hayao Miyazaki's 2004 animated classic "Howl's Moving Castle" both crossed the 100-million-yuan mark to rank a respective fourth and fifth.

"Their combined near-300-million-yuan haul underlines Japanese animation's tremendous sway in the Chinese mainland market," Rao noted.

On the tails of the traditionally sluggish March and April months, the pre-summer May Day corridor fueled intense competition among new releases.

According to Zhang Tong, a senior analyst at the Maoyan Research Institute, this year's May Day movie period opened stronger than expected, driven mainly by a heightened proportion of same-day ticket sales compared to previous years. This surge in enthusiasm for last-minute purchases led to some films outperforming expectations.

A report from the institute shows that same-day ticket purchases accounted for 70.1 percent of sales on the first day of the 2024 May Day holiday, up 3.4 percent from last year.

Notably, despite ranking just fifth and sixth on Maoyan's most highly anticipated holiday release chart, "The Last Frenzy" and "Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In" beat expectations to claim the second and fourth spots on the box office chart on May 1, their opening day.

By 3 p.m. on May 6, the Chinese mainland's 2024 box office total stood at 20.2 billion yuan, with solid growth momentum continuing. And looking ahead, industry observers say they have high hopes.

"Hit mainstream films that embody core values while representing modern film industry standards, driving diversification in film production and consumption, are an inevitable trend for the future, high-quality development of Chinese cinema," Yin said.

While commending this year's May Day box office statistics, he also noted that the holiday lineup "lacked a true word-of-mouth phenomenon."

Rao agreed that quality is paramount: "Only high-quality films with cultural substance can keep luring audiences and propelling the market's long-term prosperity."


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