China Box Office: 'Detective Chinatown 3' Rockets Past $125M on First Day of Lunar New Year

DETECTIVE CHINATOWN 3 Still - Everett - EMBED 2020
Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

'Detective Chinatown 3'

The Wanda Pictures comedy sequel is heading for a $400 million opening weekend, while six other Chinese tentpoles are generating strong social scores, suggesting that the holiday week will be an earnings bonanza. 

China's Lunar New Year box office opened with a roar Friday.

Wanda Pictures' Detective Chinatown 3 was leading the pack of seven new releases as expected. By 3pm local time, the comedy tentpole already racked up $125 million (RMB 810 million) in sales on its way to an opening-day total in clear excess of $150 million, according to early data from Artisan Gateway.

Many local analysts now believe the film could hit $400 million by the end of the three-day weekend. Ticketing app Maoyan forecasts a full run of $912 million (5.89 billion), which would make the movie the highest grossing Chinese film ever. Maoyan's forecasts often shift dramatically during a movie's release, but the threequel will undoubtedly be a monster blockbuster.

Detective Chinatown 3 has established a powerful lead over the rest of the new releases, but all of the films can be expected to see their earnings soar as the evening, and weekend, progress in China.

Lian Ray Pictures' time-travel romantic drama Hi, Mom ranked second on Friday afternoon with $32.6 million (RMB 211 million), followed by Huace Pictures' fantasy action film A Writer's Odyssey, with $15.5 million (RMB 100 million).

The latest installment in China's long running Boonie Bears family animation franchise, Boonie Bears: The Wild Life, was in fourth with $15.6 million (RMB 101 million), with Huayi Brothers video game adaptation The Ying Yang Master, which was just acquired by Netflix, next in line at $9.3 million (RMB 60 million). Bringing up the rear were Light Chaser Animation's latest 3D animated feature New Gods: Nezha Reborn and comedy drama Endgame, starring Andy Lau — with $7.1 million (RMB 46 million) and $5 million (RMB 32 million), respectively.

Demonstrating the strength of this 2021's Chinese New Year slate, all of the films are receiving strong social scores from filmgoers. On leading ticketing app Maoyan, Detective Chinatown 3 was rated 9.4/10; Hi, Mom at 9.6; A Writer's Odyssey and Endgame at 9.1; Boonie Bears, The Ying Yang Master and New Gods: Nezha Reborn all at 9.0.

The strong ratings are great news for China's pandemic beleaguered exhibitors, as it suggests many filmgoers will make repeat trips to the multiplex over the holiday.

During China's last healthy Lunar New Year period in 2019, the box office brought in a whopping $892 million over the holiday week, which was nearly 10 percent of the country's full-year box-office total of $9.3 billion.

Analysts and industry players are watching this year's holiday earnings closely for signs of a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.