We Ranked the 6 Best-performing Films Released Over Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year has become a time for huge domestic box office receipts. This year, ‘Full River Red’ and ‘The Wandering Earth 2’ are the hottest releases

5 0
11:28 AM HKT, Wed February 1, 2023 2 mins read

Chinese box offices had a sluggish year in 2022, but that stagnation is looking like less of an issue with the calendar change. From January 21 to January 27 — the week of the Chinese New Year holiday — domestic box offices raked in almost 1 billion USD, thanks to hits like Full River Red and The Wandering Earth 2.

Curious about which films performed best? We’ve ranked six of this CNY’s new releases — from animated films to period dramas — by revenue over the week-long holiday.

1. Full River Red (满江红) — 465 Million USD

Celebrated director Zhang Yimou made Full River Red, a dark period comedy that tops the list with an impressive haul of 465 million USD over eight days.

Set in the 12th-century Southern Song Dynasty, the movie revolves around an investigation of the murder of a rival Jin Dynasty envoy.

The film’s whodunit is spiced up with biting wordplay, shocking twists, and an overall sense of conspiracy — think Knives Out (2019) if it were set in ancient, imperial China.

2. The Wandering Earth 2 (流浪地球2) — 378 Million USD

The much-anticipated prequel to the 2019 blockbuster of the same name, The Wandering Earth 2 is a heartening sci-fi extravaganza about saving humankind from a catastrophe.

In this futuristic film series, the Sun is becoming a red giant that will eventually swallow the Earth. To prevent this apocalyptic scenario, the United Earth Government (a transformed UN) decides to build giant engines across the planet to thrust it into space toward a new solar system.

Of course, salvation is rife with obstacles, including untimely breakdowns of technology, sentient computers, and terrorist groups hellbent on pursuing digital immortality.

Starring actors Andy Lau and Wu Jing, The Wandering Earth 2 is flashy, panoramic, and — according to movie reviewer Simon Abrams — “just the right mix of silly and somber.”

3. Boonie Bears: Guardian Code (熊出没 ᐧ 伴我熊芯) — 136 Million USD

Boonie Bears: Guardian Code is the ninth installment of the children’s animated film series featuring two bear siblings, Briar and Bramble. In the latest release, they lost their mother in a fire. Years after the tragedy, the bears get involved with a robot research institute and rogue kidnappers, an adventure that unexpectedly leads them back to their mother.

It goes without saying that Guardian Code’s 136 million USD in revenue is evidence of the franchise’s continuing popularity with Chinese kids.

4. Hidden Blade (无名) — 86.2 Million USD

Tony Leung and Wang Yibo star in Hidden Blade, a World War II espionage film that is part of Polybona Films’ ‘Chinese Victory Trilogy,’ which includes Chinese Doctors and The Battle at Lake Changjin. The latter is China’s highest-grossing film of all time.

Set after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hidden Blade follows underground Communist Party of China agents as they gather intelligence to undermine Wang Jingwei’s Japanese puppet government.

5. Deep Sea (深海) — 66.3 Million USD

The dreamy, moving animated film Deep Sea, which director Tian Xiaopeng describes as “science fiction suspense,” is about a young girl who falls into the sea, inadvertently entering a fantasy world.

The highlight of Deep Sea is its beautiful animations: the film’s psychedelic visuals are based on the colors and movement of traditional Chinese ink painting. It reportedly took a team of 1,478 animators seven years to create the visual effects.

6. Five Hundred Miles (交换人生) — 44.4 Million USD

Five Hundred Miles sold 300 million RMB (44.4 million USD) worth of tickets over the Chinese New Year holiday. The comedy film is a take on the body swap concept, perhaps most notably explored in the 2003 fantasy-comedy Freaky Friday.

In Five Hundred Miles, a budding romance between protagonists Zhong Da and Jin Hao is shaken up when Zhong and a young man named Lu Xiaogu (who has a crush on Jin) accidentally swap bodies — as do their life experiences and family members.

By many accounts a warm and humorous tale, Five Hundred Miles lives up to its tagline: “Good laughs never tire you out. Family is the most precious [thing]” (好笑不累,家最珍贵).

Cover image via IMDb

Join the Conversation
Write comment

Jan 17, 2023
Frustrated? Maybe stop looking at a screen and go out