'Alita' takes her place at the top of the Chinese box office
By Ai Yan

As February comes to an end, China's box office rankings have reshuffled completely when compared to a month ago.

The release of “Green Book”, the Best Picture winner at this year's Academy Awards, heralds the arrival of several Oscar-winning films that are expected to hit Chinese cinemas in March, while “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” have replaced the Spring Festival hits to take the lead.

Last week's general box office exceeded 956 million yuan (142.8 million U.S. dollars), dropping around 5.3 million yuan (79.3 million U.S. dollars) compared to the previous week, according to Maoyan.com, China's biggest online movie ticket service.

A still from "Alita: Battle Angel". /Photo via Douban.com

A still from "Alita: Battle Angel". /Photo via Douban.com

“Alita: Battle Angel” garnered 323 million yuan (48.2 million U.S. dollars) last week, finally overtaking China's domestic sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth” and topping the box office ranking of the week.

It has already earned 759 million yuan (113.3 million U.S. dollars) 10 days after making the Chinese debut. But according to Maoyan, it's unlikely to surpass one billion yuan (150 million U.S. dollars) due to upcoming releases.

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is in second place with 217 million yuan (32.4 million U.S. dollars) and could be one of China's top five animated releases of all time.

A still from "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World". /VCG Photo

The third feature length entry in this DreamWorks Animation franchise has swooped into China with quite a splash. As the closing chapter Hiccup and Toothless' adventures, the film means a lot to Chinese audiences who have grown up with the franchise that begun almost a decade ago.

"The Hidden World" has been an emotional climax for many.

“It's a warmhearted story of growing pains and gains,” said one Chinese critic, a sentiment that many of the film's fans echo. The film's ending has also been a source of discussion on China's Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform.

Chinese actor Liu Haoran, who dubbed Hiccup, is promoting the film. /VCG Photo

Chinese actor Liu Haoran, who dubbed Hiccup, is promoting the film. /VCG Photo

“It has been nine years. The little boy and Toothless, who accompanied us during childhood, has grown up. As have we.” Moviegoers in China have come away from this "How To Train Your Dragon" with a bittersweet feeling. Some others have had a more joking way of bidding farewell to the characters, however: “even Toothless has fallen in love, and yet I'm still single…”

The film is 7.6 on Douban.com, lower than the previous two so far, which respectively got 8.7 and 7.9 out of 10. Even though there are also some complaints about the sequel being a little bit cliché, and the ending being fairly predictable, many have still greatly enjoyed it.

“All is for the best.”

A poster for "Green Book." /VCG Photo

A poster for "Green Book." /VCG Photo

The third place is still being held by “The Wandering Earth”, the box office of which has already exceeded 4.5 billion yuan (670 million U.S. dollars).

“Green Book” has already garnered 114 million yuan (17.2 million U.S. dollars) from its opening weekend, and is expected to continue strong this week. Despite the controversy it has experienced in the West, most of the Chinese audience is falling for this warmhearted story.

With its final four days last week, February handed in a beautiful answer sheet for its box office earnings report, with a total of 11.09 billion yuan (1.66 billion U.S. dollars), breaking the single-month and single-market box office records for February, which were set by China last year.

Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson attending the Captain Marvel European Premiere held at the Curzon Mayfair, London. /VCG Photo

Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson attending the Captain Marvel European Premiere held at the Curzon Mayfair, London. /VCG Photo

This week's big release is “Captain Marvel,” which will debut in China on International Women's Day and is expected to go head-to-head with "Alita: Battle Angel" in a brawl between female heroes from two different universes-comic books vs. anime. And also, Japanese manga adaptation “Natsume's Book of Friends” is also expected to be another nostalgic hit.

In March, at least 38 films are expected to hit the Chinese cinemas, among which is “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which won four at the 91st Academy Awards-including Best Actor for Rami Malek's portrayal of Freddie Mercury-and “So Long, My Son” which saw Chinese actors swept top acting prizes when it competed at the 69th Berlinale.

As the weather begins to heat up in March, it looks like the box office will too.

(Cover image designed by Yu Peng)