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Thursday, October 22, 2020

China Box Office Poised to Surpass U.S. as World’s Largest Moviegoing Market Amid Pandemic

China’s patriotic “My People, My Homeland” has grossed $325 million as of Monday evening local time, earning more money in less than two weeks than the $323 million that Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has grossed globally in over a month, according to data from Maoyan and Box Office Mojo.

This weekend, the total China box office hit $68 million, once again far surpassing sales in North America, where cinemas earned less than $9.5 million. To date, the Chinese box office has grossed $1.9 billion so far in 2020. The tally puts China now neck-and-neck with the North American market’s year-to-date earnings of $2.08 billion, according to Comscore. (Both markets are down 76% year-on-year.)

Cinema-going is on the rise in China as the pandemic remains under control, with strong local films set to release in the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, U.S. theaters are heading for trouble as Hollywood studio tentpoles drop off the calendar and the coronavirus continues to rage across the states. Given these factors, it now seems inevitable that the Middle Kingdom will soon surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest film market in 2020.

The performance of “My People, My Homeland” demonstrates the extent to which China’s market has recovered in the wake of COVID-19 and remains robust enough to send local tentpoles too jingoistic to entice audiences abroad nonetheless soaring to great heights.

Produced by “Wolf Warrior 2” and “The Wandering Earth” studio Beijing Culture, the film once again led the box office this weekend with sizable sales of $38.2 million, according to figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway. The omnibus title features five shorts from a who’s who of China’s most bankable directors: Ning Hao (“Crazy Alien”), Xu Zheng (“Lost in Russia”), Chen Sicheng (“Detective Chinatown 3”), Yan Fei and Peng Damo (“Hello Mr. Billionaire”), Deng Chao (“Shadow”) and Yu Baimei (“The Breakup Guru”).

Behind it in second place was Enlight Pictures’ animated film “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification,” which made $10.2 million this weekend to bring its cume up to $216 million. The Maoyan platform predicts it will go on to earn just $10 million more over the course of its run — a lesser performance than that of last summer’s “Nezha,” the $720 million-grossing animated hit from the same universe that precedes this tale.

In third place was the Gong Li-starring volleyball drama “Leap,” directed by Hong Kong’s Peter Chan, which made $7.6 million in its third weekend in theaters.

Local comedy “Coffee or Tea” came in fourth, with $7.1 million in sales. The Jackie Chan-starring action film “Vanguard” brought up the rear in fifth with a box office of $2.6 million, bringing its cume up to $35.7 million.

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