Domestic films drive China's Spring Festival box office
Posters for
Posters for "The Wandering Earth II," "Full River Red" and "Hidden Blade" at a cinema in Yichang, Hubei Province, China, Jan 22, 2023. /CFP

Posters for "The Wandering Earth II," "Full River Red" and "Hidden Blade" at a cinema in Yichang, Hubei Province, China, Jan 22, 2023. /CFP

The box office for the seven-day 2023 Chinese New Year holiday, marking the first Spring Festival since China relaxed its COVID-19 restrictions, exceeded 2 billion yuan ($294.79 million) on Monday, with domestic films driving the majority of the sales.

The box office, including pre-sale tickets, totaled 2.3 billion yuan as of 1:30 p.m. on Monday, according to data from the live movie information tracking app Maoyan.

During the week-long Chinese New Year holiday, which runs from January 21 to 27, seven films spanning a variety of genres, including sci-fi, period drama, sports, comedy and fantasy, have been released in cinemas.

"We hope to make good use of the film supply during the Chinese New Year to promote enthusiasm for movie-watching," Fu Ruoqing, chairman of China Film Group Corporation (CFGC), told China Media Group.

"Therefore, when planning the films for this year's Spring Festival, we were very concerned about the richness and diversity of the films that we would present, so as to meet the different needs of the market."

During the 2023 Spring Festival, domestic films have driven sales, with "The Wandering Earth 2," a prequel to the 2019 science fiction blockbuster, topping the box office, earning 665 million yuan so far.

Chinese director Zhang Yimou's suspense costume drama "Full River Red" came in second with real-time box office earnings of 609 million yuan. Meanwhile, "Hidden Blade," which stars award-winning Hong Kong actor Tony Leung and Chinese mainland heartthrob Wang Yibo, ranked third with earnings of 226 million yuan so far.

Domestic films have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, with statistics from the State Film Administration showing that they represented 85 percent of last year's total box office earnings of 30 billion yuan, generating 25.5 billion yuan.

Many of these domestic films incorporate the theme of "feelings of home and country," which describes a sense of attachment and devotion to one's country and culture. Films such as "The Wandering Earth 2," "Full River Red," "Ping Pong:The Triumph" and other movies released during the 2023 Spring Festival have blended this theme of national pride with blockbuster entertainment, appealing to a wide range of movie-goers.

Cinemas have also implemented various measures to boost enthusiasm for movie-watching, including lower pre-sale ticket prices. The average pre-sale ticket price for the 2023 Spring Festival is 53.8 yuan, 2.4 yuan lower than last year, according to movie ticketing and analytics website Dengta.

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