Lost In The Stars

Source: Blossoms Entertainment

‘Lost In The Stars’

China’s box office jumped 52.9% in the first six months of 2023 with ticket sales of $3.7bn (RMB26.3bn), marking the first such year-on-year increase since the Covid-19 pandemic.

It does not mark a complete recovery as the figures remain 15.7% down on the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. But robust growth was seen in June with takings of $581.8m (RMB 4.13bn), up 115% on 2022 and down a mere 0.8% on 2019. The results almost equalled pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to data provided by Artisan Gateway.

The top grossing film in June was Lost In The Stars, a Chinese suspense thriller produced by Chen Sicheng, which grossed $239.6m (RMB1.7bn) as of June 30 and captured a 41.2% market share following its opening on June 22.

It fuelled China’s second best ever box office takings across the Dragon Boat Festival holiday ($128.2m/RMB 910m from June 22-24), only behind 2018.

Lost In The Stars was also the first film of the summer to cross the RMB1bn mark and the third of the year to date, behind Chinese New Year hits Full River Red and The Wandering Earth II.

The local feature beat out Hollywood blockbusters Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts and Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, which ranked second and third in June with $83.7m (RMB594.5m) and $47.8m (RMB339.6m) respectively.

Although an increasing number of US features have been approved for release, none have yet to cross the RMB1bn mark. In the first half of the year, the market share for Hollywood films was 16.1%, compared the 35% to 40% achieved between 1H 2018-2019, while the market share for Chinese-language films was 76%.

Directed by rising filmmakers Cui Rui and Liu Xiang, Lost In The Stars is adapted from 1990 Russian film A Trap For A Lonely Man and revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a woman during a vacation with her husband. When the woman reappears, a lawyer and a police officer take on the case as the husband insists she is an imposter. The cast is led by Zhu Yilong from 2022 hit Lighting Up The Stars, Ni Ni, Janice Man and Du Jiang.

Producer Chen who is also the film’s co-screenwriter is known as the writer-director of the popular Detective Chinatown film franchise and as the producer of Chinese remakes of foreign films such as Sheep Without A Shepherd and Fireflies In The Sun.

Lost In The Stars, filmed on Hainan Island among others locations, was the closing film of Hainan International Film Festival in December and went on to play in competition at Beijing International Film Festival in April.