Home Reviews Film ‘Under the Light’ Leads as Holiday Business Slumps

‘Under the Light’ Leads as Holiday Business Slumps

‘Under the Light’ Leads as Holiday Business Slumps

The Zhang Yimou-directed contemporary drama film “Under the Light” retained its top spot at the mainland China box office for a second weekend, but with numbers that dropped steeply, as macro-economic weakening led to a Golden Week of across the board disappointment.

Financial media Monday reported that consumers travelled less and spent less on leisure than had been forecast, likely reflecting general economic belt tightening, high unemployment and property sector worries.

Before the holidays, cinema ticketing firm Maoyan had forecast that the first three days would throw up box office of RMB1.5 billion (208 million) and that “Under the Light” alone would reach RMB2 billion ($278 million) by the end of the eight-day holiday season (Sept. 29-Oct. 6). Those estimates proved to be highly over-optimistic.

The company now reports that the eight-day total box office amounted to RMB 2.734 billion from ticket sales of 65.1 million.

The positive spin is that box office was up by 80% compared with last year. But many cinemas in China were closed or operating at limited capacity for much of 2022, making for a weak comparison. The less flattering like-for-like comparison with 2019 shows a drop of 39%, Maoyan said.

The decline was particularly marked in the major cities, pointing to the economic pinch. Other commentators suggested that the selection of new release films was weak – and that some of them were not very new. Zhang’s “Under the Light” had been completed long ago.

Consultancy firm Artisan Gateway reported that “Under the Light” earned $17.4 million over the weekend (officially Friday was holiday, Saturday and Sunday were normal days) for a cumulative of $139 million (RMB999 million) since Sept. 28.

Second place belonged to local rom-com “The Ex-Files 4: Marriage Plan,” which earned $13.3 million (RMB95.6 million) for a cumulative of $106 million (RMB762 million).

“Moscow Mission,” moved up from fourth place in its first week to third place in its second. Its gross revenues were $9.8 million (RMB70.2 million) for a cumulative of $61.8 million (RMB445 million).

“The Volunteers: To the War,” a propaganda film directed by Chen Kaige, slipped to fourth. It earned $9.4 million for a cumulative of $77.4 (RMB667 million).

“Paw Patrol The Mighty Movie” fell out of the top five and was replaced by “Lose to Win” in fifth place. Another holiday season release, it earned $2.4 million for a cumulative of $17.5 million (RMB126 million).

Nationwide, the weekend was worth $56.2 million, for a running total of $6.64 billion. Artisan Gateway calculates that as a 75% gain on the same point in 2022. The deficit to 2019 now stands at 9.5%.

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