Cinema’s warm summer

After a relatively slow first half, the box office in China is catching up, thanks to a combination of Hollywood and domestic hits, Xu Fan reports.

Despite predictions that it would be a lackluster box-office season due to a first half slowdown, the summer has just concluded with a happy ending.

Official statistic shows that the summer-usually a lucrative period lasting from June to August-raked in 17.65 billion yuan ($2.46 billion), surging 1.6 percent year-on-year, according to China Movie Data Information Network. The box office figure represents a record high for the past five years.

Nearly 130 new films were released during the three months. Among them, 21 films saw their box-office receipts surpassing 100 million yuan, and five blockbusters earned more than 1 billion yuan each.

Theater admissions climbed to 500 million, slightly more than 496 million recorded during the same period in 2018 and surpassing 474 million in 2017 by a considerable margin.

Although tickets are becoming more expensive, bigger screens-which charge higher prices-are preferable.

A report from Beacon-a movie data tracker affiliated to Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group-shows the average ticket price rose to 35.32 yuan per person this summer, 2.4 percent higher than last year.

Maoyan’s film-revenue tracker finds that Imax China’s box-office takings rose 18.2 percent this summer, compared to the same period last year, marking the best performance ever for Imax.

The biggest surprise of the summer was the domestic dark horse, Ne Zha, an animated retelling of a well-known figure in Chinese mythology. It was the top contributor to the box office bonanza.

Exploring modern topics such as parenting and self-control through an ancient tale with exquisite animation, the story about a rebellious hero has become a runaway hit, grossing a whopping 4.74 billion yuan as of Tuesday.

An even more unexpected surprise is that Ne Zha recently overtook sci-fi epic The Wandering Earth to claim the spot for second highest-grossing film of all time in China’s box-office charts. This happened shortly after it supplanted Disney’s Zootopia as the country’s top-performing animated release to date at the beginning of August.

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