China Box Office: Zhang Yimou’s ‘Under the Light’ Is Weekend Winner

China Box Office: Zhang Yimou’s ‘Under the Light’ Is Weekend Winner

A dearth of new release films allowed Zhang Yimou’s “Under the Light” to retain a comfortable lead at the China box office over the weekend, in its third week of release.

The contemporary crime drama film earned $13.5 million (RMB97.2 million) between Friday and Sunday, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. Since releasing on Sept. 28, it has accumulated gross revenues of $163 million (RMB1.17 billion).

Zhang will be feted with a lifetime achievement award in Japan next week, where the Tokyo International Film Festival will play his February record breaker “Full River Red,” but not “Under the Light.”

“The Volunteers: To the War,” a 1950s-set propaganda film directed by Chen Kaige, earned $9.6 million (RMB69.2 million) and rose from third to second place. It now has a cumulative of $93.2 million. Chinese comedy franchise film “The Ex-Files 4: Marriage Plan” took $8.8 million in its third week of release, advancing its cumulative to $123 million.

“Moscow Mission” was close behind, with $8.4 million. That extended its three-weekend cumulative total to $76.3 million. “Lose to Win,” another holiday season release, earned $2.2 million in its third weekend. Since debuting on Sept. 28, it has accumulated $21.1 million.

After a strong summer season that helped overall box office numbers in China to recover most of their pre-COVID might, a familiar pattern of seasonality and holiday-driven releasing appears to be re-emerging in the Middle Kingdom. National Geographic documentary “Jane,” about naturalist Jane Goodall, is due a release in the coming days, but the next major Hollywood tentpole to arrive in China is “The Marvels,” on Nov. 10.

The latest weekend saw aggregate nationwide grosses of $47.1 million, propelling the year-to-date total to $6.71 billion. Artisan Gateway calculates that as 76% ahead of COVID-struck 2022, and 10% behind the same point in 2019.