Four films opened on Friday, the day before the three-day new year holiday, all of them Chinese and three of them comedies.
Horror comedy Gold Buster topped Friday’s box office charts with opening earnings of 90.78 million yuan ($13.95 million). Closely behind was romance comedy The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes, which opened at 76.85 million yuan. As of 3 pm Saturday, The The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes had made 114 million yuan while Gold Buster had notched up 126 million yuan.
In third place with 58.54 million yuan was fantasy romance comedy Hanson and the Beast and No.4 was Namiya with 47.14 million yuan, adapted from Japanese writer Keigo Higashino’s novel Grief Grocery Store.
Director Feng Xiaogang’s coming-of-age drama Youth was finally pushed into the fifth place after dominating the box office in previous weeks. Chen Kaige’s Tang Dynasty (618-907) fantasy Legend of the Demon Cat sat in sixth.
Friday’s box office for Gold Buster was the best opening gross for a Chinese film since Never Say Die, another comedy that premiered on September 30, according to an Mtime report.
All three comedies performed well in theaters but none were rated highly on domestic film websites : Gold Buster ranked 5.8 on Mtime and 4.9 on Douban. The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes was 6.2 on both Mtime and Douban. Hanson and the Beast scored 5.8 on Mtime and 6.2 on Douban.
“Our market has a huge demand for comedies,” film critic Mu Yi told the Global Times. “Audiences are looking to relax in theaters.”
China has few comedy movies, Mu noted, and therefore any comedy with proper marketing can do good box office regardless of quality.
Kung Fu Yoga, Journey to the West: Demon Chapter and Buddies in India all showed during the Chinese lunar new year holiday with an appeal to a wider audience including friends, families and couples who go to theaters for entertainment.tar Wars: The Last Jedi” failed to conquer the world’s second-largest box office last weekend, despite heavy promotion in China and broader success worldwide.
Not even a red-carpet premiere at the Shanghai Disney Resort and marketing partnerships with Pepsi, Alibaba and Samsung could avert a disappointing $28.6-million debut for the latest “Star Wars” film, according to film consulting firm Artisan Gateway. The movie fell a distant second to a local romantic comedy.
One reason for the tepid interest is that Chinese moviegoers haven’t grown up with Luke Skywalker and his father. When “The Force Awakens” premiered in China in 2015, many fans didn’t understand the backstory. This time, Disney tried to fill people in with written introductions to each character.
But the film was no match for the light-hearted “The Ex-File 3: The Return of The Exes,” which topped the box office with $154.8 million in ticket sales. The film about relationships has generated more than $200 million at the box office in 10 days, making it the 11th highest-grossing local film in China.
Feng Xiaogang’s period epic “Youth” finally lost some steam, although it earned an additional $26.2 million to gross $208.9 million in nearly a month.
Hong Kong actress Sandra Ng’s directorial debut, “Goldbuster,” a horror-comedy, pulled in $15.4 million to bring its 10-day total to $54.1 million.
Chinese fantasy comedy “Hanson and the Beast,” starring Disney’s new “Mulan” actress, Liu Yifei, garnered $14.9 million for a 10-day total of $41 million.