The mainland China box office remained moribund over the latest weekend, lacking direction or new releases and achieving nationwide revenue of just $11.4 million.
The country is continuing to suffer from clusters of COVID infections that have caused mass lockdowns in some cities and the temporary closure of many cinemas. Even as there is now talk of easing restrictions in Shanghai, which had been locked down for five weeks, there is the prospect of new restrictions in capital city Beijing. The government has also imposed a blanket ban on all but essential overseas travel.
U.S. animation film “The Bad Guys” remained in top of the box office chart for a second week (its third weekend on release) with a Friday to Sunday score of RMB26.5 ($3.9 million), according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. That gives it a running total of RMB130 million ($19.1 million) since April 29, 2022.
“Stay With Me” which released on the same say, held second place in the weekend chart with RMB11.6 million ($1.7 million). Its cumulative stands at RMB134 million ($19.7 million).
“Man on the Edge” earned RMB8.4 million ($1.3 million) in third place. Its total since releasing on April 15 is now RMB116 million ($17.1 million).
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” earned RMB6.8 million (roughly $1 million) for a cumulative of RMB168 million ($24.7 million).
Even older, “Hotel Transylvania 4” took fifth place with a weekend score of RMB5.3 million ($800,000). Its total in six weeks is RMB94.2 million ($13.9 million).
Under these conditions distributors of local films have canceled many releases. But those Hollywood films able to get import and censorship clearance are plowing ahead, albeit with greatly reduced expectations. “Downton Abbey: A New Era” will release on May 20.
Imported films are now suffering an additional handicap. As the Renminbi (or Chinese Yuan) has weakened against the U.S. dollar, the value of earnings in China are being reduced. At RMB6.80 to the dollar, the Chinese currency is now some 7% weaker than three months ago when the latest phase of the coronavirus battle began.
Year to date cinema box office stands at $2.20 billion (using the latest rates of exchange), some 36% down on the same point in 2021.