It looks like the Spring Festival movies this year are seeing quite a bit of off-screen drama. Zhang Yimou’s historical suspense comedy Full River Red 满江红 is the top-grossing film for the holiday season which marks yet another big win for Shen Teng and his young co-star Jackson Yee (Yi Yang Qian Xi) who has become the first Chinese actor in his early 20’s to cross 15 billion yuan (approx $2.2 billion) in box office receipts.
Full River Red Responds to Controversy
However, Full River Red has been accused of inflating ticket sales through methods like counting another film’s ticket sales as their own. It didn’t help that The Wandering Earth 2 star Wu Jing whose movie nabs the number 2 spot had liked a post on social media saying they only acknowledge Wu Jing as the box office King. It was thought to be a jab at competition but Wu Jing later explained he simply clicked on the wrong thing.
Nonetheless, accusations flying amidst Full River Red’s continued success has prompted the film to issue denials as well as a statement declaring that the accusations of “ghost theatre,” “stealing box office,” “buying box office,” “manipulating the market” and “plagiarism” are all nonsense. Furthermore, they issued another statement to say that they’re filing a lawsuit against four Weibo users for allegedly creating rumors.
Ping Pong of China
Another film that seems to have had a hiccup this holiday was Ping Pong of China 中国乒乓之绝地反击. After just two days in theatres, the sports film has pushed back screening once again to February 17 when it will be hitting cinemas all over. This is the second time the film has had to push back its screen dates. Originally, Ping Pong of China was scheduled to hit cinemas together with the rest of the films on New Year’s Day January 22 but ended up delaying the premiere to January 24.
Spring Festival 2023 Box Office Rankings
Here’s a look at the current top scorers as there’s definitely a shake-up from the beginning of pre-sale tickets. Aside from the top 2 that saw Full River Red taking over the top spot from The Wandering Earth 2, up on third place is the animated film Boonie Bears: Guardian Code 熊出没·伴我“熊芯. Tony Leung and Wang Yibo‘s film Hidden Blade has fallen to fourth place. Deep Sea 深海 another animated film on the lineup sticks to the number 5 slot with sixth place going to the fantasy-comedy flick Five Hundred Miles.
I am one of the few looking forward to Ping Pong: The Triumph’s release here in the US on Feb 3. Now, the new official worldwide release is Feb 17, 2023. I have followed the ups and downs of this movie. The initial date was Oct 2022 but was withheld by the sports bureau due to the Ping Pong World Championship happening around the same time; sports superstition and all. Fast forward to Jan 2023, everything was set to go, and the film is scheduled on New Year’s Day, Jan 22. There were early screening happening in Beijing, Shanghai and various other locations throughout the country. But surprise surprise out of nowhere, just TWO days before box office open for purchasing the movie is call back again to change all the main character names. Apparently, even with all initial approval and several early screening nobody found anything wrong until the last important hour. What a dirty trick. Now, a few days after another set of changes are made and the movie is once again ok to release in theaters on Jan 24 almost all the schedule release times are all in the AM, earliest at 1AM and latest at 9AM, no day or evening schedule. Not to mention some early AM ticket prices are double or triple and a few even cost 700-800 yuan! WTF!! I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Sigh…lastly, after days of many fans complaining about the “ghost” schedule and pricing the movie teams decided to withdraw from the New Year file and restart again on Feb 17. What a horrid journey. All I can say is GOOD LUCK! I really want to see this movie in theaters on Feb 17. No more tricks, no more changes, please! Enough is enough.
Looking forward to Hidden Blade’s USA/Canada release on Feb 17!