The Chinese movie box office smashed a single-day record as audiences flocked to celebrate the Chinese New Year

china cinema wandaThis picture taken on April 27, 2018 shows people watching a movie at a cinema in Wanda Group's Oriental Movie Metropolis in Qingdao, China's Shandong province. - A massive 'movie metropolis' billed as China's answer to Hollywood opened on April 28, aiming to boost the domestic film industry and attract foreign producers.WANG ZHAO / AFP

  • China's box office has broken its single-day record as people flocked to the movies to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the first day of the Year of the Pig.
  • The Chinese box office collected about $216 million on Tuesday, China's Lunar New Year's Day, smashing all other previous single days for Chinese cinema worldwide.
  • According to state media, China's annual television extravaganza, the Spring Festival, which landed on the same day, also secured record new-audience numbers.
  • Following the boom in cinema construction and Communist Party investment in production, China is now the world's second-largest film market, grossing just over $9 billion in revenue for 2018.

China's box office has broken its single-day record as people flocked to the movies to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

According to Deadline, a resurgent Chinese box office collected about $216 million on Tuesday, China's Lunar New Year's Day.

While those numbers fell by more than 30% the following day, they still topped all other previous single days for Chinese cinema worldwide.

Following the boom in cinema construction and Communist Party investment in production, China is now the world's second-largest film market, grossing just over $9 billion in revenue for 2018.

Analysts keep a close eye on the Spring Festival audiences as it often provides an idea of what kind of tastes the audiences will be seeking and what kind of revenue targets producers can expect.

Following an unseasonably quiet January, moviegoers returned in droves for the first day of the Year of the Pig, beating out China's previous worldwide single-day record of about $210 million by 14%, which was set during last year's Chinese Spring Festival.

Relatedly, China's mega-hyped, most-watched annual television extravaganza, the Spring Festival Gala, aired on the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year and, according to CCTV, boasted sizable new-audience numbers.

2019 spring festival gala jackie chanBEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 04: (L - R) William Chan, Jackie Chan and Deng Lun perform on the stage during the 2019 China Central Television (CCTV) Spring Festival Gala on Chinese New Year's Eve, Beijing, China.(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

"The 2019 China Central Television (CCTV) Spring Festival Gala attained an aggregate viewership of 1.173 billion across all platforms, up about 42 million over the same period last year," CCTV declared, citing broadcaster China Media Group.

The four-to-five-hour marathon has lost a little of its edge in recent years. In the more autocratic age of President Xi Jinping, there is a distinctly less off-the-cuff and a far more tow-the-party-line feel about the event.

But it still has moments that can amaze and baffle, as seen below:

The Chinese New Year is undoubtedly a peak season for Chinese cinema, which may explain January's pre-holiday box-office lull, with the new year break falling in February.

China's box office slate for January certainly stumbled, accumulating just around $500 million for the entire month - a fall of more than 32% compared to the same period in 2017, and the slimmest January pickings since 2015.

Big in China

China transformers bay"DirectorLintao Zhang/Getty Images for Paramount

In December, Xi Jinping's new and all-powerful Central Propaganda Department provided an unexpectedly pleasant pre-Christmas gift to foreign producers by approving an additional seven foreign films in excess of its annual 34-film quota.

China has been protecting its own nascent film industry for many years, closely managing how many and which films are chosen for domestic consumption. That's not only for commercial reasons, but also to regulate public appetites for Western narratives and the unwanted influence of US soft power.

More than 1,000 Chinese-made films were produced last year and half of the top-grossing productions were domestic features, The China Daily reported.

In this record-breaking Year of the Pig, eight major new releases, including a groundbreaking Chinese-made sci-fi blockbuster, said to be the first of its kind, are battling it out for box-office glory.

CCTV reports that 31 million people went to cinemas on the Lunar New Year's Day this year, with the top-tier cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen leading the charge.

The China Daily observes that heading out to the movies is a pastime finding its feet in smaller cities - and remember China has about 90 cities with urban populations of more than one million. 

The number of moviegoers in these lower-tier cities is quickly rising, with retirees being the fastest-growing demographic as Chinese spending power and enthusiasm for the entertainment industry grows alongside middle class numbers.

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