China's film market kicks off 2024 with record Spring Festival sales

CGTN | Updated: 2024-02-18 10:49
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People watch a film during the Spring Festival holiday season, Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province, February 12, 2024. [Photo/CGTN]

While there were none of the blockbuster hits in hard science fiction and costume fantasy seen in recent years, 2024's lineup broke records in the pre-sale stage for Spring Festival films over the past three years, becoming the quickest pre-sale box office to surpass 100 million.

"It was incredibly moving. I cried twice. It stayed with me long after I watched it," said Cheng Zhangli, a viewer in Beijing, after seeing "YOLO" (short for You Only Live Once). The film narrates the journey of an unemployed woman in her 30s, living with her parents, whose life changes after meeting a boxing coach.

"The heroine's unwavering persistence and determination deeply touched me. I can relate to that sentiment in my own life. I believe everyone should applaud their own journey," she said.

Liu Youhui, a viewer from Hebei who watched the animated "Boonie Bears: Time Twist" with his child, commented on the film's sophistication. "The children were completely engrossed, and adults were equally amazed," he said. "The sci-fi effects and the storyline were both exceptionally well-crafted."

Beyond light-hearted comedies, this holiday season also features films with realistic themes, like Article 20, a movie named after Article 20 of the China's Criminal Law, which delves into the complex and sometimes controversial legal concept of justifiable self-defense.

The film, featuring a prosecutor as the protagonist, narrates the tale of a middle-aged man aiming to make a final push in his career who unexpectedly finds himself embroiled in a highly contentious case. It explores realistic themes from the everyday person's viewpoint, underscoring the justice and humanity within the law.

The line from the film, "What you are dealing with is not just a case, but other people's lives," shows the dual nature of a prosecutor's work and has struck a chord with many viewers.

"This sentence has gradually become a guiding principle for judicial staff, capturing the heart of law enforcement, justice, and compassion for people," said Ji Bingxue, director of the First Procuratorial Department of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. "It stresses that judicial staff need to view cases through the eyes of the litigants and understand what they're going through."

Data shows that the enthusiasm for movie-going is not limited to major cities. Residents of third- and fourth-tier cities have become major contributors to cinema consumption, accounting for more than half of the total box office revenue, at 54 percent. Moreover, the trend of family viewership has seen growth, with groups of three or more increasing from less than 20 percent last year to 27 percent.

In response to the growing demand, theaters have adapted by extending their operating hours and increasing the frequency of movie screenings. "Our cinema opens quite early, starting at 8:30 a.m.," said Wen Zhongyi, the duty manager of a cinema in Guangzhou. "To accommodate the public's preferences, we've also extended our closing time by an hour."

To attract even more viewers, theaters have introduced various promotional activities and special services, such as family ticket packages and massage seats for guests waiting to enter, aiming to enhance the overall viewing experience.

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