Detective Conan The Scarlet Bullet

Japanese anime Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet topped the China box office over the weekend (April 23-25), according to figures from Artisan Gateway, grossing $4.8m.

The film, which is the 24th installment in a popular franchise, has grossed $26m since its April 17 release in China. It was followed by Lian Ray Pictures’ Sister, starring Zhang Zifeng, which grossed $4.6m over the weekend for an impressive cume of $128.2m.

The re-release of the second installment in the Lord Of The Rings franchise, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, opened in third position with $4m over the three-day weekend. The first installment, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, which opened one week previously on April 16, came in fifth with $3m for a cume of $8.2m.

So far, no date has been set for the third installment in the franchise, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. The next big Hollywood release is Universal’s F9 scheduled for May 21. 

Winding up an impressive China run, Godzilla vs. Kong came in fourth with a further $3m for a cume of $183.8m, making it the biggest Hollywood release of the pandemic.

However, it was a quiet weekend with combined box office takings of just $23.6m, compared to $49.4m the previous weekend, according to Artisan Gateway. The major reason is that this coming weekend is one of China’s four big box office periods – the five-day May Day holiday (May 1-5) – and a bumper crop of local titles are scheduled for release.

These include Zhang Yimou’s spy thriller Cliff Walkers (a.k.a. Impasse), about four communist agents who have been trained in the Soviet Union to carry out a secret operation in the city of Harbin. The cast includes Zhang Yi (Operation Red Sea), Yu Hewei (I Am Not Madame Bovary), Qin Hailu (The Pluto Moment) and Zhu Yawen (The Captain).

Also scheduled to open on April 30 are Han Tian’s romantic comedy My Love, starring Zhang Ruonan (The End Of Endless Love) and Taiwan’s Greg Hsu; Derek Kwok’s Schemes In Antiques, a remake of the TV series Mystery Of Antiques, starring Lei Jiayin, Li Xian, Xin Zhilei and Ge You; Wong Jing’s Money Empire, starring Louis Koo, Tony Leung Ka-fai and Francis Ng; and omnibus Her Story, comprising three short films about Chinese women during the pandemic, with segments directed by Joan Chen, Li Shaohong and Sylvia Chang.

Another crop of films are scheduled to open on Saturday, May 1, including Leste Chen’s suspense thriller Home Sweet Home, starring Aaron Kwok and Zhang Zifeng; Roy Chow’s Dynasty Warriors, a live-action adaptation of the video game series starring Louis Koo, Wang Kai and Tony Yang; and Li Yu’s comedy Tiger Robbers, starring Ma Li and Song Jia.

China’s box office for the year to date has reached $3.12bn, down 6.7% on the $3.35bn grossed by this point in 2019, the year before Covid-19 shuttered China’s cinemas for six months.