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Box office rakes in $280m as Chinese flock to theaters during New Year


Movie posters at a movie theater in Shanghai, China, February 10, 2024. /CFP
Movie posters at a movie theater in Shanghai, China, February 10, 2024. /CFP

Movie posters at a movie theater in Shanghai, China, February 10, 2024. /CFP

Movie theaters across China were packed with people as films produced in celebration of the Spring Festival debuted on Saturday, the first day of the Year of the Dragon.

Most cinemas have refreshed the lineup of movies being shown on their screens, introducing at least nine films that incorporate some elements of comedy to lighten up moviegoers, who are mostly on their Spring Festival break.

China's box office revenue during the Spring Festival holiday, including pre-sold tickets, had exceeded 2 billion yuan ($280 million) as of 12:58 Sunday, according to box office tracker Lighthouse. On Saturday alone, movie theaters chalked up 1.36 billion yuan, slightly surpassing the same period last year.

"Pegasus 2," directed by writer-turned-director Han Han and starring famous actor Shen Teng, raked in the most box office earnings on Saturday – around 200 million yuan. It follows a disgraced race driver who turned his fortunes around by starting a race team from scratch and winning a championship in a prestigious contest.

Neck and neck with "Pegasus 2" was "YOLO,"  directed, written and starred by Jia Ling, an actress and filmmaker who has amazed her fans with a 50-kilogram weight loss over the past six months. The movie, as inspirational as herself, tells the story of an amateur boxer who has transformed from a decadent, spoiled person into an assertive woman with clear life goals.

Another big hit was "Article 20" by Zhang Yimou, one of the best-known Chinese directors. The saga, which depicts a prosecutor who has closely watched the consequence of a series of unfair treatment, including that of his family, takes a sharp look at issues surrounding the legality of self-defense and strikes a chord with many who have advocated for similar defendants in the past.

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