"Ne Zha" and many top grossing films had new "windfalls" in their box office gross sales after the China Film Administration ordered checks and the subsequent retrieval of Chinese cinemas' unreported box office revenue.
Coloroom Pictures releases a celebratory poster for "Ne Zha" as it surpasses the 5 billion yuan mark in box office revenue on Dec. 28, 2019 after the inclusion of cinema chains' previously unreported ticket sales income. (Image courtesy of Coloroom Pictures)
Towards the end of the year, China's film authorities did their 2019 tally and found discrepancies in the reporting of box office revenue after comparing their statistics with data from third-party ticketing platforms. This led them to conclude that there had been stolen or concealed box office revenue in some cinemas.
On Dec. 6, they convened an urgent meeting with nationwide cinema chains and issued an order to local cinemas to check their 2019 figures and report the corrected numbers. Errant cinemas which failed to comply would have their permissions to screen movies revoked.
As several cinemas concluded their reporting by the Dec. 20 deadline, the 2019 box office chart started to spawn new box office records.
The 2019 champion, the highest-grossing Chinese animated feature and the second highest-grossing Chinese film of all time, "Ne Zha," still keeps its title, but its total gross revenue has now gone from 4.97 billion yuan (US$695 million) to slightly more than 5 billion yuan. This small leap means a lot, as it now makes "Ne Zha" the second Chinese film to gross more than 5 billion yuan, second only to Wu Jing's "Wolf Warrior 2" which raked in 5.68 billion yuan.
But the biggest beneficiary of the amended reports is "My People, My Country," the anthology film screened during this year's National Day to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It received a more than 120-million-yuan bump in box office revenue, resulting in its total gross shooting up from the original 2.99 billion yuan to 3.12 billion yuan. This shakeup also made it become the 8th highest-grossing film in Chinese film history, surpassing the comedy drama "Dying to Survive" (3.1 billion yuan).
Other notable increases include sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth" and China's airline drama thriller "The Captain," which received more than 20 million yuan in new box office revenue. Even Disney's "Avengers: Endgame" received more than 8 million yuan in box office sales after the records were corrected.
Based on the new box office statistics, China's total box office gross in 2019 has reached 63.5 billion yuan as of Dec. 29 morning. This marks a new record in the history of Chinese film, and is a lot higher than last year's 60.98 billion yuan.
The top 10 highest grossing films of 2019 in China are:
1. "Ne Zha" 5 billion yuan
2. "The Wandering Earth" 4.68 billion yuan
3. "Avengers: Endgame" 4.25 billion yuan
4. "My People, My Country" 3.12 billion yuan
5. "The Captain" 2.89 billion yuan
6. "Crazy Alien" 2.21 billion yuan
7. "Pegasus" 1.73 billion yuan
8. "The Bravest" 1.7 billion yuan
9. "Better Days" 1.56 billion yuan
10. "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" 1.43 billion yuan
(Statistics provided by Maoyan, a ticketing and box office tracking platform)
Posters of the top 10 highest grossing films of 2019 in China (Photo: China.org.cn)