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Lunar New Year Haul Tops $1.1 Billion

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Four Chinese films dominated the mainland China and global box office charts over the latest weekend. “YOLO,” a comedy drama about weight loss and self-discovery, was crowned as the top earning film worldwide for a second weekend running.

“YOLO” took $86.5 million (RMB614 million) between Friday and Sunday, giving it a 9-day cumulative total of $402 million (RMB2.85 million), according to data from consultancy firm Artisan Gateway.

The second film by Jia Ling, who previously directed 2021 Lunar New Year smash hit “Hi, Mom”, “YOLO” released on Saturday, Feb. 10 and has retained the number one position since the second day of the Chinese New Year holidays, staying narrowly ahead of racing comedy “Pegasus 2.”

Over the latest weekend “Pegasus 2” earned $80.6 million, giving it a running total of $356 million.

“Article 20,” the Zhang Yimou-directed legal comedy, improved significantly. It climbed up one place to third in the Chinese and global weekend charts and earned $70.2 million over the weekend. That compared with an opening weekend of $47.6 million and gives it a 9-day cumulative of $207 million.

Chinese animation “Boonie Bears: Time Twist” slipped to fourth in the Chinese weekend chart and fifth globally. (On the global chart provided by ComScore, “Bob Marley: One Love” took fourth spot, earning $56.7 million from 48 territories, including North America.) “Boonie Bears” added $52 million over the weekend for a 9-day cumulative of $209 million.

A long way behind, Ning Hao’s Andy Lau-starring “The Movie Emperor” took fifth place over the weekend in China. It took $1.3 million for a cumulative of $11.9 million.

Chinese ticketing agency, Maoyan calculates that the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year holiday period brought in record box revenue of RMB8.02 billion or $1.11 billion, an 18% increase on 2023. But the agency previously said that comparison with prior years was not exact, due to the timing of the holidays this year. In mainland China, the holidays welcoming in the Year of the Dragon officially ran Saturday to Saturday (Feb. 10-17), but some folk may have taken the latest Sunday as leave, as well, making for an unusually long holiday.

In its latest note, Maoyan said that 163 million tickets were sold over the holiday period. That was a 26% year-on-year increase and implies that mean ticket prices were lower. Maoyan says that ticket prices over the holiday period dropped 6% to RMB49.1 ($6.82) apiece, reflecting both price cutting in the major metropolises and the skewing of attendance to third and fourth tier towns and cities, which this time accounted for 58% of box office business.

Artisan Gateway calculates that China’s running box office haul for the 2024 calendar year is $1.62 billion. That is some 14% behind 2023 levels, but the gap could be narrowed if the top titles have staying power or if the upcoming crop of Hollywood titles find good traction.

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