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Chinese Films Take First, Third and Fifth Places at Global Box Office on Holiday Weekend

A clutch of Chinese movies released for the end of September holiday season dominated the global box office over the latest weekend. Mainland Chinese-produced films took first, third and fifth places across the planet, according to U.S.-based data service Comscore.

Comscore shows “Under the Light,” which released only in mainland China, grossing an estimated $54 million between Friday and Sunday. That put it ahead of Paramount’s “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” which earned an estimated $23.0 million in the North America (aka ‘domestic’) market and a further $23.1 million in the rest of the world, for a weekend total of $46.1 million.

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In third place globally was another Chinese film “The Ex-Files 4: The Marriage Plan,” which released in China and five other territories for a weekend total of $41.4 million. (That included $66,000 from North America.) “The Creator” earned $32.3 million across the planet, comprising an $18.3 million international score and $14 million from North America. Fifth, planetwide, was Chinese propaganda movie “The Volunteers: To the War,” which released in two territories and scored $30.8 million, according to Comscore estimates.

Providing top five China figures considered as definitive, consultancy firm Artisan Gateway, shows that the Middle Kingdom enjoyed one of its five biggest box office weekends this year. Artisan Gateway reports the nationwide aggregate at $168 million, between Friday and Sunday.

The holiday period in China continues over the next several days, combining the moveable feast of Mid Autumn festival with the People’s Republic of China’s National Day holiday that starts on Oct. 1, and for many becomes an eight-day “Golden Week.”

“Under the Light” is a neon-lit drama directed by Zhang Yimou and mark’s Zhang’s second major hit film to be released this year, after “Full River Red,” released at Lunar New Year. “Under the Light,” stretches across multiple themes including crime and anti-corruption efforts, and is reported to be Zhang’s most tightly plotted film in a while. It features a cast of top mainland stars including: Zhang Guoli, Yu Hewei, Joan Chen, Zhou Dongyu, and Lei Jiayin.

Artisan Gateway reports it as earning $55.5 million (RMB393 million) between Friday and Sunday. Including its advanced opening on Thursday, it finished Sunday with a four-day cumulative of $62.6 million (RMB451 million).

Urban romantic comedy, “The Ex-Files 4: The Marriage Plan” also got a Thursday release and grossed $41.4 million (RMB300 million) between Friday and Sunday. Over its four opening days, its total was $54.3 million, for the Huayi Brothers studio.

Imax reported that “Under the Light” earned $3.9 million on its screens in China and that “The Ex-Files 4: The Marriage Plan” enjoyed $1.1 million of its total from its venues.

“The Volunteers,” is the first part of a new trilogy directed by Chen Kaige (director of Palme d’Or winner and double Oscar nominated “Farewell My Concubine”) celebrating the victories of the China’s People’s Volunteer Army during the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-1953), known in the west as the Korean War. It earned $31 million (RMB223 million) between Friday and Sunday and $34.7 million over four days, according to Artisan Gateway.

The same provider shows comedy actioner “Moscow Mission” releasing on Friday and earning $23.2 million (RMB166 million) in fourth place at the China box office.

“Paw Patrol” proved an exception to the rule that normally bars Hollywood imports from new releases during key Chinese holidays. It released on Friday and earned $5.4 million (RMB38.8 million) in China over its opening three days, Artisan Gateway reports.

The bumper weekend lifted China’s box office for the year-to-date to a total of $6.39 billion. That is some 77% ahead of the COVID-hit 2022 and trails the last pre-COVID, 2019, by only 5%, according to Artisan Gateway.

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