The 2018 Spring Festival broke numerous records in the film business.
Monster Hunt 2 released pre-sale tickets one month before it opened in theater. Booking sales broke 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) within 11 days, the fastest ever in China. After the release, single-day box office earnings exceeded 550 million yuan ($67 million), breaking the The Fast and the Furious 8 single-day box office record of 480 million yuan ($76 million).
With Monster Hunt 2, Detective Chinatown 2, and Operation Red Sea in theaters, the box office on Lunar New Year exceeded $1.26 billion yuan ($199 million). This figure broke last year’s box office record of 806 million yuan ($127 million) by over 50 percent.
On the second and the third day of the first lunar month, box office earnings were 1.01 billion yuan ($159 million) and 900 million yuan ($142 million), respectively. Box office earnings over the first three days of the Spring Festival was a record-breaking 3.2 billion yuan ($504 million), an increase of 65 percent from the previous year.
There were more film companies competing for the market during the Spring Festival than ever before, including traditional film companies such as Wanda and Enlight Media and film platforms like Tencent Pictures and Mao Yan. These companies fiercely promoted their products and serivces during the Spring Festival.
Single-day box office earnings rank highest in the world. Pre-sale tickets predicted Spring Festival theater success.
During the first three days of the first lunar month, Monster Hunt 2 and Detective Chinatown 2 drove high box office sales.
This year’s biggest “dark horse” title was Operation Red Sea, another one of Dante Lam’s masterpieces after Operation Mekong. This military film is full of guns, explosions and other action elements. Although Operation Red Sea only accounted for 11 percent of the box office on Lunar New Year, its popularity has risen since the second day of the lunar month and will likely continue to attract fans.
With upgrades and promotions of online ticketing platforms in recent years, online ticket sales accounted for more than 80 percent of ticket sales. Online platforms play important roles in publicizing films and in gross contributions to the box office. Spring Festival pre-sale tickets ensured that the box office would be at least 660 million yuan ($104 million). Pre-sale tickets laid a solid foundation for the Lunar New Year box office, which was a record high of 1.26 billion yuan ($199 million).
According to Film Market Consumption Big Data on Lunar New Year published by Mao Yan, pre-sale earnings become an important basis for the Spring Festival box office. On Lunar New Year, a film’s pre-sale earnings were just about the same as its opening-day box office grossing. The pre-sale earnings of Monster Hunt 2 accounted for 50 percent of its box office; the ratios of pre-sale to total box office sales for Detective Chinatown 2 and Operation Red Sea were 51 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
Content upgrades: word-of-mouth determines future trend.
In addition to a notable increase in the box office sales, the quality of major films has also improved markedly over the past year. Viewer ratings of this year’s movies on Mao Yan were significantly higher than that of last year. In particular, Operation Red Sea was the highest at 9.6 points, then Detective Chinatown 2 with 9.3 points, and then Monster Hunt 2 with 8.2 points. The Monkey King 3 scored less than 8.
On Lunar New Year, the box office performance depended on pre-sales and film marketing strategies. When films are released, its content, quality and reception influence the its later performance. Mao Yan is China’s only platform for netizens to review and score the film. Word-of-mouth can also attract more viewers, making way for the Matthew effect.
The audience means everything.
Box office sales performed notably better during the Spring Festival.
People 35 years old and older watched more movies during this Spring Festival than last year. Due to family reunions and new theaters in the third- and fourth-tiered cities, more and more people in those areas are going to the movies during the Spring Festival. Watching movies is no longer a young people activity in large cities, but it is becoming a popular entertainment enjoyed by all ages across China.
Spring Festival participants and family reunions help grow the box office, resulting in the 1.26 billion yuan ($199 million) box office record on Lunar New Year. Social media and platforms like Mao Yan empower the general public and help accelerate market growth.
Before the Spring Festival this year, the film industry was hindered by new policies. Since the Lunar New Year and with box office record sales, the film market has been re-ignited. During this year’s Spring Festival, film quality and originality attracted viewers. One title after another, Monster Hunt 2, Detective Chinatown 2, and Operation Red Sea have created numerous market miracles.
The Spring Festival is only half over, leaving room for more surprises. The Chinese film market may soon usher in a new expansions and records.