After a sales surge in February, the Chinese box office is expected to continue its momentum in March, boosted by the release of multiple high-quality imported films.
One of the most anticipated blockbusters is "Black Panther," Marvel Studios' latest superhero film. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film stars Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther who returns home as king of Wakanda but finds his sovereignty challenged by a long-time adversary in a conflict with global consequences.
"Black Panther" will be shown on the Chinese mainland starting March 9. On Maoyan, a popular film database in China, more than 200,000 users have expressed their desire to see the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel's last film, "Thor: Ragnarok" grossed more than 700 million yuan (about 110 million US dollar) on the mainland.
"Pacific Rim: Uprising" will hit the screens on the mainland on March 23. Hoping to ride the momentum of the 2013 film "Pacific Rim," which raked in nearly 700 million yuan on the mainland, the sequel features Chinese actress Jing Tian in a leading role. Several other Chinese faces can be also seen in the sci-fi blockbuster.
"Tom Raider," the new Lara Croft film will arrive in Chinese cinemas on March 16. Despite its brand recognition, the film may not have as large a fanbase as Marvel and the Pacific Rim series do in China. However, Chinese-American film star Daniel Wu's participation may help boost its popularity in China.
While Hollywood big-budget action films may continue to accelerate the box office boom in China, Chinese moviegoers will also have a chance to see some of this year's Oscar contenders.
"The Shape of Water" will be shown on Chinese screens starting March 16. The fantasy film has garnered a total of 13 Oscar nominations, topping the prediction lists of many media organizations.
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" hit the Chinese screens Friday. Seen by many as the most possible winner in this year's Oscar Best Picture race, the film had pocketed nearly 10 million yuan in China as of Sunday. Despite moderate box office performance, it has been greeted with critical praise. On Douban, China's leading film rating platform, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" scored 8.7 out of 10 points, based on more than 100,000 moviegoer reviews.
Chinese moviegoers are being offered diverse choices, as films from other Asian countries are also scheduled for March.
Indian film "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" starring Salman Khan has earned more than 40 million yuan since its release on Friday. It scored 8.6 points on Douban.
Japanese comedy "Mix" will arrive in Chinese cinemas on March 9. Japanese actress Yui Aragaki enjoys tremendous online popularity in China. Her role in the film may attract a considerable number of Chinese moviegoers.
March is likely to see a major comeback for imported films in Chinese market in terms of sales and word of mouth, but they will still be challenged by some of phenomenal domestic productions.
Two weeks into screening, "Operation Red Sea" is still delivering strong performances, raking in nearly 140 million yuan on Saturday.
According to statistics released by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, China's box office sales hit a record high of 10.14 billion yuan (about 1.6 billion dollars) in February.
The figure surpassed the previous world record for the highest monthly box office sales in a single market of 1.39 billion dollars, set by the North American market in July 2011.