The excitement and horror of the big screen has returned to the world’s largest film market.
With coronavirus well controlled in China and cinemas operating at half capacity, film buffs are breaking Chinese box office records, setting a new high score for ticket sales in February, and domestic productions far outperforming Hollywood competitors.
February was the biggest month for movie ticket sales in China, amounting to 11.2 billion yuan ($ 1.73 billion) so far. China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest market for ticket sales last year, as the U.S. box office was hit hard by the closure of cinemas due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese theaters were able to reopen in the middle of the year and have been recording steady audience growth ever since. Local films have also benefited from periodic unofficial “blackouts”, when only domestic productions are allowed to be shown. The lack of major Hollywood hits in recent months also seems to have boosted the market for Chinese films.
People are encouraged to stay in Beijing for the lunar New Year, so watching movies in the cinema has become the main choice of entertainment, said Chu Donglei, marketing manager at Poly Cinema’s Tiananmen branch in central Beijing.
Wearing a mask is mandatory, and moviegoers must register through the mobile app in order to be traced in the event of an outbreak. It was allowed to take only every other place, which made it even more difficult to get tickets for the most popular movies.
According to the China Film Information Network, 95 percent of ticket sales come from the seven highest-grossing films released around the lunar New Year’s festival, which began on February 12 this year.
Hi, Mom, a time-traveling comedy written, directed and starred by Jia Ling, made the best earnings with 4.36 billion yuan, followed by the action comedy Detective Chinatown 3 with 4.13 billion yuan.
Wang Xiaoyu, 32, who works in the film industry, managed to get a ticket for Hello, Mom on Thursday and called the viewing experience touching. “
I know there are some movies that are published and broadcast online. But I don’t think the experience of watching movies online is as good as watching movies in a movie theater. I prefer to go to the movies to watch movies. The experience is different, Wang said.
The lack of entertainment opportunities helped the pump sell tickets during the pandemic, foretelling the bright future of the Chinese film industry, Wang said.
College student Zhang Jiazhi (21) said that the experience of live cinematography is a welcome break from staying at home and watching videos. The successful promotion of the films online has also helped attract numerous viewers to cinemas, Zhang said.
I’m bored and you can’t stay home all the time and watch (streaming service) Douyin, so I came to the cinema to watch a movie. There is nothing to do, said Zhang, who went to the cinema on winter breaks to watch Writer’s Odyssey, “a Chinese fantasy film that he said he did not fully understand.”
China became the world’s largest box office last year, selling about $ 2.7 billion in tickets compared to $ 2.3 billion in the U.S., where ticket sales fell 80%. Eight Hundred, an “action drama glorifying China’s resistance to Japanese invaders in the 1930s in Shanghai,” was the world’s biggest hit, earning $ 461.3 million at the box office, most of it in China.
Chinese theaters also closed for a while during the peak of COVID-19 in the country last spring, but gradually reopened during the summer. As of Friday, China has passed 11 days without reporting any new cases of local transmission of the virus.
Since the epidemic was first detected in central Wuhan in late 2019, China has reported a total of 89,877 COVID-19 cases with 4,636 deaths.