Never Say Never

Source: Happy Pictures

‘Never Say Never’

China’s box office continued to heat up in the summer months as July closed with $1.2bn (RMB8.7bn), the second biggest month this year, according to the latest data provided by Artisan Gateway.

Four local films ruled the market, each of which crossed the RMB1bn mark. Directed by and starring Wang Baoqiang, Happy Pictures’ Never Say Never has taken $287.7m (RMB2.04bn) as of July 30. The drama opened on July 6 and is based on a true story of a man who turned orphans into martial arts fighters.

Animation Chang An, produced by Light Chaser, the Chinese animation studio behind 2019’s White Snake, made $213m (RMB1.51bn) over three weeks since its release on July 8. Set in Changan (today’s Xian), the imperial capital of the Tang Dynasty, the animated feature celebrates traditional Chinese culture and art through the friendship of Li Bai, one of the most famous poets in Chinese history, and his close friend Gao Shi.

Beijing Culture’s long-awaited fantasy epic Creation Of The Gods I: Kingdom Of Storms added $155.5m (RMB1.1bn) to the local box office after just 10 days on release. The film is adapted from classical fantasy novel Fengshen Yanyi and is the first instalment of a trilogy by director Wuershan, whose previous blockbuster hits include Mojin: The Last Legend.

The strongest performing title was As One Production’s mystery drama Lost In The Stars, which surged past $487m (RMB3.5bn) to become the 12th highest grossing film of all time in China. The film, which opened in China on June 23, is set to open across Asia and CIS in the coming weeks.

While local productions have gone from strength to strength, the performance of imported films from the US remained lacklustre. None have yet to hit the RMB1bn milestone this year, despite an increase in the approval of Hollywood films. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 marked the biggest import in July with $46.5m (RMB330.3m), while international hit Barbie was no match for local blockbusters, taking $25.5m (RMB181m).

The Chinese box office totalled $4.98bn (RMB35bn) year-to-date, up 69% year-on-year, with 81% of the market share represented by Chinese-language titles and 19% by imported titles.

The biggest month of 2023 to date is January with $1.4bn (RMB 10.1bn), driven by Chinese New Year.