The first day of the Year of the Pig saw a new record single day box office take of over 1.4 billion RMB (210 million USD) in China, surpassing the previous record of 1.27 billion RMB set on the first day of the Year of the Dog in 2018. The total receipts on Tuesday were equivalent to the entire year’s box office intake in 2004.
Spring Festival has become a bumper time for the world’s second largest box office in recent years, and 2019 saw a slew of big-name releases.
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Crazy Alien, which boasted the filmmaking talents of Ning Hao (who starred in one of last summer’s biggest hits, Dying to Survive) and the writing talents of sci-fi author Liu Cixin, led the pack, raking in over 400 million RMB. The Wandering Earth, an epic sci-fi action flick that is also based on a work by Liu, only reached fourth place, though its backers will be buoyed by strong reviews.
Joining Crazy Alien in the top three were two more comedies: race car driver and author-turned-director Han Han’s Pegasus ranked second, while Stephen Chow’s latest (and unfortunately not greatest) The New King of Comedy claimed third place. The Alibaba-backed Peppa Pig movie, created especially for the Chinese market (though now screening in other parts of Asia and on a limited number of US screens), could only manage seventh place.
But this was just on day one. The Chinese New Year holiday runs until Sunday, meaning there’s still plenty of time for the films that missed out on topping the one-day box office table to overtake Crazy Alien. After all, patriotic war movie Operation Red Sea came fourth on day one of the holiday last year, but went on to enjoy huge success. Whether any of this year’s Spring Festival releases can match its numbers remains to be seen.
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