China's weekly box office: Pre-sale movie tickets top 500m yuan for Spring Festival period
By Ye Qing

During the first week of February, the box office in the Chinese mainland reached 300 million yuan (about $46.53 million), down from the 396 million recorded the week before (January 25 – January 31). The drop in foot traffic to cinemas comes as moviegoers hold off going to their local theaters until the release of much-anticipated titles during the upcoming holiday to mark the Chinese New Year.

Advance sales for films premiering during the Spring Festival have surpassed 500 million yuan, according to data from Chinese movie ticketing platform Maoyan.

The Spring Festival is one of the peak seasons for the industry in China as distributors and production studios schedule the release of some of the year's biggest works during the seven-day nationwide holiday.

The February 1-7 week saw no change in the top-grossing titles from a week earlier, with the Chinese romantic comedy film "Big Red Envelope" continuing its dominion, followed by Universe Entertainment's action sequel "Shock Wave 2" in second place and "A Little Red Flower" in third.

"Big Red Envelope," which stars Bao Bei'er and Clara Lee, tells the story of a man who hires an actress to pretend she's marrying him so he can collect cash in red packets as wedding gifts, taking advantage of a traditional Chinese custom. The film took the top spot in weekly box office rankings with 95.25 million yuan. Despite mixed reviews, it has raked in more than 200 million yuan since its release on January 22.

"Shock Wave 2" grossed 73.01 million yuan last week, while "A Little Red Flower" took in 57 million yuan. The film which centers around two families' battle with cancer has made 1.4 billion yuan in the first month of its release.

Chinese musician Zhao Yingjun, who wrote the lyrics and lent his voice to the theme song of "A Little Red Flower," died of cancer on February 3, and his passing away prompted many to pay tribute to him by watching his last work on the silver screen.

The animation feature "Soul," produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, came in fifth on the list, maintaining its strong performance in theaters. The fantasy film has generated more than 350 million yuan in the Chinese mainland box office since its release on Christmas. But competition might get stiffer this week as big blockbusters will be released to coincide with the Spring Festival, which falls on February 12 this year.

Pre-sales for February 11, the first day of the holiday, have exceeded 400 million yuan so far, with "Detective Chinatown 3" leading the pack. The movie was initially scheduled to premiere during the 2020 Spring Festival, but its release was postponed because of the COVID-19 situation in China at the time. One year on, fans of the comedy-mystery franchise are still waiting with bated breath for the third installment, with pre-sale tickets on opening day reaching 312 million yuan, out of 420 million yuan in total advance sales.

The comedy film "Hi, Mom" has grossed more than 90 million yuan in total pre-sales, while the fantasy action film "A Writer's Odyssey" took in more than 38 million yuan in total pre-sales.

Other films to be released during the Spring Festival include the fantasy film "The YinYang Master" starring Chen Kun and Zhou Xun and the crime comedy "Endgame" starring Andy Lau. Each title has raked in 10 million yuan in pre-sales.

Read more: Movies to look forward to during the 2021 Spring Festival holiday

(Cover photo designed by Qu Bo) 

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