Local titles were the biggest hit at the mainland Chinese cinema box office over the weekend. “Never Say Never” surpassed previous sensation “Lost In The Stars” to lead another strong summer performance.
“Never Say Never” (aka “Octagonal”) was released on Thursday, ahead of China’s Friday schedule. It earned $55.3 million (RMB384 million) between Friday and Sunday, according to verified data from analysts Artisan Gateway. That would add up to $9.6 million from Thursday with a total of over $60 million and the film ended Sunday with a total of $121 million.
Written and directed by actor Wang Baoqiang (“Lost in Thailand,” “Detective Chinatown”), the film tells the story of a man who tries to teach orphans the art of martial arts. But he is publicly embarrassed after his efforts are misinterpreted.
According to local sources, “Lost in the Stars” was the top-grossing film on Thursday and Friday, before “Never Say Never” dominated Saturday and Sunday.
“Lost in the Stars” also earned $44.1 million (RMB318 million) between Friday and Sunday for a total of $428 million after 18 days in Chinese theaters.
Lightchaser movie “Chang An” was released only on Saturday, but it placed third on the weekend chart with $24.8 million (RMB178 million) from just two days of business. Including last week’s screenings, the film now has a total of $27.8 million (RMB200 million).
The franchise film produced in Hong Kong “White Storm: Heaven or Hell” opened on Thursday. In three days, it earned $17.9 million (RMB129 million). In four days it earned $24.4 million.
Alpha Pictures’ “Super Wings: Jett Run,” a Chinese-made movie based on a Korean children’s cartoon, opened Saturday and placed fifth for the weekend with $4.8 million.
Last week it grossed $152 million worldwide. Artisan Gateway calculates that it is 61% ahead of last year’s score at the same time of the year, and only 11% behind the same point in 2019.
According to local sources, the top Hollywood movie in China last weekend was “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.” It grossed nearly $500,000 for a 31-day cume of $95.0 million.
The property of “Super Wings” provides an interesting footnote to the global conflicts that plague the film industry in East Asia.
At the moment, the biggest controversy is the movies showing the maps of Asia. The upcoming Hollywood movie “Barbie” has been banned in Vietnam for showing a map showing disputed Chinese claims that a large part of the South China Sea is its territory.
Chinese media reported that in 2021, China banned the Korean-made series “Super Wings” from TV and commercials because it included a map that left out Tibet and showed Taiwan as a separate country from the People’s Republic of China. China used the military in 1950 to control Tibet. China also says that Taiwan is a terrorist group that it will deal with – with force if necessary.
According to Chinese media, “Super Wings” made another historical mistake, describing the Mid-Autumn Festival as originating in Korea. Chinese officials say the holiday originated in China and was later adopted on the Korean Peninsula.
Films made in Korea have not been allowed to be exported to China since early 2016, due to another national dispute.
China banned Korean films in retaliation for the Korean government’s decision to allow the deployment of the US THAAD missile defense system on its territory. And, while there has been public talk about the reunification and resurgence of imported Korean products, this has been minimal on TV and almost zero in film. For several years now, Chinese companies tend to buy or license Korean IP and reproduce it as a Chinese product.