China Box Office: Business collapses as coronavirus lockdowns bite

The box office in mainland China slumped to its lowest weekend total this year as the film industry was once again hit by the impact of anti-coronavirus lockdowns. Nationwide, the cinemas recorded only 12.6 million dollars in sales.

Viral infections are rising sharply in some parts of the country, caused by the spread of the highly infectious omicron variant of the COVID-19 disease, although absolute numbers remain low compared to many other countries. And given the country’s declared zero-COVID policy, responses from national and local authorities have been harsh and restrictive.

The current epicenter is Shanghai, where a megacity of 25 million people has been locked down in two phases over the past week. With 2,000 military doctors currently being shipped to the city, repeated mass testing for the disease is now underway. Cinemas in Shanghai remain closed, which has a significant impact on the national level of business.

Artisan Gateway calculates that year-to-date box office earnings are $2.20 billion. That is 24% less than in the previous year.

The weekend chart was complicated not only by theatrical closures, but also a staggered series of film releases.

Data from consulting firm Artisan Gateway shows “Moonfall” topping its second weekend, with a Friday-Sunday return of 20.4 million RMB, or $3.2 million at current renminbi/US dollar exchange rates.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions was released on Saturday and took second place over the weekend with a two-day score of 11.9 million RMB ($1.9 million).

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania was released on Sunday and grossed 11.7 million RMB (1.8 million US dollars).

In fourth place, Hong Kong-produced crime thriller Man on the Edge earned 9.9 million RMB (US$1.5 million) over two days of previews. The film is slated for an official release on April 15, 2022.

The out-of-sync release pattern raised several oddities that were not fully reflected in the three-day chart.

Local sources revealed that four of Saturday’s top five movies were produced in the US (“Moonfall” and “Escape Room 2” in first and second place, and “The Batman” and “Uncharted” in fourth and fifth). But the localized lockdowns and theater closures mean Hollywood’s timing is unfortunate.

On Sunday, Hotel Transformania 4 was the top movie ahead of Moonfall and Escape Room 2.

https://variety.com/2022/film/asia/china-box-office-coronavirus-lockdown-1235222620/ China Box Office: Business collapses as coronavirus lockdowns bite

Charles Jones

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