China's January box office soars to record high
Driven by the robust ticket sales of the Spring Festival holiday movies, China's January box office totaled approximately 10 billion yuan (US$1.48 billion) as of Tuesday afternoon, a record high for the month.
Domestic titles released during the Spring Festival, which marks the beginning of the Chinese lunar new year, led the monthly chart, according to box office tracker Maoyan and other platforms.
Topping the chart was the twist-filled "Full River Red," Zhang Yimou's first foray into the "suspense plus comedy" genre, with approximately US$0.5 billion or 34 percent of the total.
It was immediately followed by Guo Fan's "The Wandering Earth II," a prequel to the 2019 sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth," which pulled in about US$0.41 billion.
Third place went to the animated film "Boonie Bears: Guardian Code," the newest installment in one of the longest-running movie franchises in China. It grossed US$0.2 billion.
American movie "Avatar: The Way of Water," the much-anticipated sequel to the 2009 American sci-fi hit "Avatar," made it to fourth place with US$101.8 million generated this month, which brought its China box office total since December 16, 2022, to US$0.24 billion.
The Spring Festival this year came earlier than usual. Unlike in 2022 and 2021 when the week-long holiday, usually a lucrative movie-going period, mostly fell in February, this year's holiday as a whole was within January.
Soaring ticket sales from the holiday movies drove China's January box office revenue to as much as US$1.47 billion as of 4pm Tuesday, much higher than US$0.4 billion, US$0.49 billion, and US$0.5 billion – the amounts for the same month in 2022, 2021, and 2019, respectively.
The holiday box office surge this year, which beat the expectations of many observers, could be attributed to multiple reasons, including the high quality of the holiday movies that came in various genres, and the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions following China's adjustment of its response to the virus, according to cinema managers and critics.
China's box office total in 2022 was US$4.45 billion, according to data from the China Film Administration.