Patriotic films dominate box office during China's National Day holidays
By Ai Yan

As the National Day holiday comes to an end, the movie rankings at the domestic box office have settled down as well. The top three slots have been occupied by patriotic films, with "My People, My Country" leading the box office with earnings of around 2 billion yuan (290 million U.S. dollars).

According to, China's online ticketing platform, the general box office grossed 4.6 billion yuan (640 million U.S. dollars) - the highest ever during the seven-day holiday.

Focus shifts: Small potatoes are in demand

"My People, My Country", jointly directed by seven Chinese directors, is a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Selecting seven moments out of the 70 years, the film presents seven stories to give a chronological panorama of the country's development.

As of Monday, the film had already garnered 2.16 billion yuan (300 million U.S. dollars), while it continues to be a hot topic on social media platform Sina Weibo.

This movie's success can be attributed to the fact that when it comes to such tribute films, the focus has shifted from big names to small potatoes. The heroes and heroines of the seven stories include an engineer behind the first national flag-raising ceremony in 1949, a 10-year-old boy, a taxi driver during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and a stand-by pilot in the 2015 military parade.

Poster of "My People, My Country" displayed outside a cinema. /VCG Photo

Poster of "My People, My Country" displayed outside a cinema. /VCG Photo

Some of the stories have vividly depicted the trifles and details of everyday life. At the same time, instead of celebrating the achievements of the country, such as the successful test of the first atomic bomb, handover of Hong Kong and the Olympics, the stories focus on the contributions made by some nameless heroes.

"Tribute films can easily become boastful with no substantial content, but this one surprised me," reads a comment on "The film mixed the themes of different eras into the daily lives of ordinary people, and they are touching."

This sentiment was echoed by a majority of the moviegoers, who termed it a big progress vis-a-vis story-telling in Chinese films.

Of courage and strength 

"The Captain", adapted from a real-life flight emergency in 2018, secured the second slot on the chart by grossing an aggregate of 1.7 billion yuan (240 million U.S. dollars) during the past week. The number continues to rise.

The cabin crew and pilots of a Chinese passenger airplane of Sichuan Airlines managed to make a safe landing after withstanding depressurization and temperature drop caused by a windshield crack. The crew won the applause of the entire nation.

The film was directed by Andrew Lau, a Hong Kong director renowned for his 2002 crime film "Infernal Affairs", and starred Zhang Hanyu, Yuan Quan, Ou Hao and others. 

A standee of "The Captain" is placed outside a cinema. /VCG Photo

A standee of "The Captain" is placed outside a cinema. /VCG Photo

This movie is not the first attempt of a Hong Kong-based director at making a patriotic film. In fact, such an approach has tasted commercial success in the past as well in the shape of "Operation Mekong" and "Operation Red Sea" by Dante Lam.

With their special sensitivity to fast-paced action films, Hong Kong directors are much better at building suspense and creating tension.

The film has also earned accolades from the audience, grabbing seven out of 10 points on Chinese rating platform However, some people have voiced criticism, saying that some of the stereotyped scenes were weak.

"The Climbers", starring Wu Jing and Zhang Ziyi, is a story based on the Chinese mountaineering team's successful climbing of Qomolangma from the northern side. The film grossed 716 million yuan (100 million U.S. dollars) during the past week and is on the third spot. 

File of actors of "The Climbers" posing for a photo. /VCG Photo

File of actors of "The Climbers" posing for a photo. /VCG Photo

Following up are U.S. animation "Abominable" and Chinese animation "Ne Zha", the previous blockbuster.

This week, Hong Kong crime film "A Witness Out of the Blue" as well as German film "Don't. Get. Out!" are about to hit the big screen, while sci-fi film fans could also be looking forward to "Gemini Man", Ang Lee's exploration of new possibilities in the film industry, which is set to meet the audience around mid-October.