China Box Office: ‘Homecoming’ Hits $160 Million, Dominating Depressed National Day Holiday Week

Patriotic rescue film “Homecoming” largely dominated the Chinese box office over the latest weekend and brought to a close a deeply-depressed National Day holiday period.

“Homecoming” earned $21.5 million between Friday and Sunday to lift its ten-day cumulative to $163 million, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. That score accounted for a 71% share of the weekend’s $30.3 million total.

Second-placed film “Ordinary Hero” earned just $2.2 million, giving it a ten-day total of $19.7 million. Previous top-ranking film, “Give Me Five” held on to third place, despite the volley of new releases on either September 30 or October 1. It collected $1.7 million for a cumulative of $60.8 million since release on Sept. 9, 2022.

Holiday seasons are hugely important to the Chinese film industry, but they do not necessarily correspond to overseas conventions. And year-on-year comparisons can be ambiguous.

The recent National Day holiday ran from Saturday Oct. 1 to Friday Oct. 7, with Saturday being a work-day in some business sectors. (Last year it ran Friday to Thursday.) The latest box office weekend, then, contained one day of holiday and two normal days.

Helpfully, Chinese state media reported that the aggregate gross over the seven-day holiday period this year was some RMB1.5 billion. That compared with RMB4.2 billion in 2021 and RMB5 billion in pre-COVID year 2019.

The underperformance means that the year-to-date aggregate is slipping ever further behind that of 2021. According to Artisan Gateway’s calculations, the $3.85 billion total to Oct. 9, 2022 is more than 31% behind the $5.60 billion achieved at the same point last year.

The reasons for the lag are by now familiar: a shortage of popular films; a near complete absence of Hollywood titles; continuing COVID-related lockdowns; and an economic climate that has additionally been hit by unemployment, a severe property crisis and fragmenting supply chains.

In dollar terms the year-on-year comparison is made worse by the roughly 10% fall of the Chinese currency against the dollar. A year ago, the conversion rate was $1=RMB6.44. Today it is $1=RMB7.11.

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