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Daily Drip

A Month after Reopening, Domestic Blockbusters are Back in Chinese Cinemas

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A month after Chinese cinemas reopened for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak, the country is finally seeing its first domestic blockbuster of the year in cinemas: the long-delayed war drama The Eight Hundred.

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For those unfamiliar, the film was originally scheduled to premiere at last year’s Shanghai International Film Festival (SHIFF), but was scrapped last-minute due to “technical issues.” The film was also set to be released nationwide not long after SHIFF, but was subsequently delayed.

Advanced screenings for the hotly-anticipated film were held over the past week and brought in more than 30 million USD, helping the film top the Chinese Box Office. Until then, that position that had been held, oddly enough, by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, after a remastered version of the film brought in 20 million USD over the weekend of August 14-16.

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The film focuses on the struggle of 800 soldiers in Shanghai in 1937 as they fight against Japanese soldiers who have surrounded them in a warehouse. Director Hu Guan is also the man behind Mr. Six, the successful 2015 revenge flick, and a segment of the 2019 patriotic film My People, My Country.

Initial reactions to the film have been largely positive, as netizens taking to social networking and criticism site Douban in force. The film currently has a 7.9 rating out of ten, with 45% of people giving the film four stars out of five. One commenter captured the mood of the theatrical release, saying, “At the end of the movie, the audience was silent, as if they were still immersed in the tragic atmosphere and could not return to their senses.”

The theatrical line-up for China’s National Holiday, from October 1 through 8 — one the two biggest box office weeks of the year for Chinese cinema — was also released this week.

Among the films that will finally be released during the holiday are Legend of Deification, the ostensible spiritual successor to wildly popular animated film Nezha, and Gong Li-fronted volleyball biopic Leap, as well as another sequel of sorts, My People, My Homeland.

The latter is seen as a follow-up to My People, My Country, which featured short stories directed by seven different directors and was released during the October National Holiday last year. Segments of the upcoming film are set to be directed by the likes of House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou and Lost in Hong Kong director Xu Zheng.

Related: 

How “Nezha”, a Revamped Tale from Chinese Mythology, Became the Country’s Biggest-Ever Animated Movie

Bryan Grogan
    Bryan is RADII's Culture Editor. He is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with an interest in culture stories with a social bent. He can be found at a music show, usually with pint in hand.