It’s barely been four months since the Chinese war epic The Battle at Lake Changjin shattered China’s box office records, and now the film’s sequel is dominating Chinese theaters. The Battle at Lake Changjin II: Watergate Bridge premiered on Tuesday, February 1 (the second day of the week-long Spring Festival holiday), and by mid-evening, the film had raked in 100 million USD (636 million RMB).
As of February 1, Watergate Bridge had a 44% market share of all current theatrical revenue.
According to Straits Times, by February 6, the last day of the holiday, the film’s revenue had climbed to nearly 2.4 billion RMB.
While that’s undoubtedly an impressive pull, it’s still a ways off from the original film, which premiered on September 30, 2021, and raked in 4.246 billion RMB over the week-long National Day holiday last year.
According to Deadline, China’s domestic box office receipts in the first two days of the Lunar New Year holiday this year were down 20% from those of last year, but more or less equal to the first two days of the holiday in 2019.
Nine-digit revenue on opening day is certainly nothing to scoff at, but it still pales in comparison to the record-breaking premiere of Detective Chinatown 3 last year.
That being said, Detective Chinatown 3 was generally considered a flop, while Watergate Bridge currently has a rating of 7.2 out of 10 on the reviewing platform Douban and 9.6 on the online ticketing site Maoyan.
Maoyan originally predicted Watergate Bridge would bring in around 938 million USD in sales by the end of its run (which would break the record set by the first film), but the site has since lowered the estimate to around 623 million USD.
Several factors may have contributed to the decline in theater revenue in China this holiday season, including increased participation in outdoor winter activities and greater attention paid to the Beijing 2022 Olympics, which kicked off on February 4.
Furthermore, because of pandemic-related production delays, demand for Chinese releases may have been higher than usual at this time last year.
According to an article by state-backed publication Global Times, a total of eight new films were competing for viewership in theaters over the Spring Festival holiday — traditionally the most lucrative time of year for China’s film industry.
The article also claimed that experts predicted total box office revenue for the holiday season could increase to 8 billion RMB (more than 1.25 billion USD), up 1 billion from last year. As of Sunday evening, total revenue sat around 950 million USD.
Maoyan data shows that Watergate Bridge remains the frontrunner, followed by the comedy To Cool To Kill in second and the drama Nice View in third place.
Both The Battle at Lake Changjin and the sequel Watergate Bridge tell the story of Chinese troops fighting alongside the North Korean army during the Korean War (1950-1953), better known in China as the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea.
The films feature frontrunner Wu Jing, of Wolf Warrior fame, alongside the wildly popular actor and musician Jackson Yee.
All images via IMDb
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