China's box office is having a better Lunar New Year than before Covid
February 16, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 51.7%. 2 min read.
Chinese cinemas are back, and busting even pre-pandemic levels, according to data tracking the first few days of the Lunar New Year.
Local box office takings over the start of the Lunar New Year holiday have already surpassed those of the same period in 2019, despite some restrictions on theater occupancy.
The increase gives China another lift after it overtook the United States to become the world's top movie market last year.
China's box office took in about 4. 5 billion yuan ($697 million) over the weekend, which included the first three days of the festivities, according to the latest available data from Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan.
China's box office is off to a "surprisingly strong start," they wrote in a research note Tuesday, adding that the uptick showed that "demand for movies in physical theaters remains healthy, especially considering the restriction of occupancy rate at 75% still persists [in some cities]. "
Analysts attributed the strong showing to several factors, starting with a lineup of popular new releases, such as the Chinese films "Detective Chinatown 3" and "Hi, Mom," which topped the box office over the weekend.
The Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China, is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar — the equivalent of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve combined.
But consumers are looking for more local activities this year as new government measures discourage them from traveling over the break.
Overall, movie fans are also probably just excited to get back to cinemas after a "rise of pent-up demand" in recent months, according to the Citi analysts.
Last January, the pandemic forced a nationwide shutdown during the Lunar New Year — a time when people are typically flocking to theaters.
By the end of this week, China's box office intake could go much higher.