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    China’s Film Industry Roars Into New Year With Record Gross

    A slew of well-rated domestic “new year films” have driven China’s box office to new heights this festive period.

    China’s Spring Festival box office has grossed over 7.84 billion yuan ($1.09 billion) as of 1:50 p.m. on Saturday, according to industry platform Maoyan. The figure is a new record for the festive period, surpassing the previous record set in 2021.

    China’s film industry has seen a steady return to normalcy after several tough years, with related authorities encouraging people to return to movie theaters and rolling out tax breaks for theater operators.

    Ticketing platforms have also rolled out discounts for movie tickets, making the movie theater a popular destination for entertainment this Spring Festival.

    Nine domestic “new year films” had releases scheduled to coincide with the weeklong break this year, one of the two peak film viewing seasons in China along with the summer school break.

    These included female boxing drama “Yolo,” which has courted controversy over actor-director Jia Ling’s body transformation for her role. The film, one of this Spring Festival’s most discussed online, has made 2.7 billion yuan as of publication time, according to Maoyan.

    Another high-profile film, “Article 20,” directed by legendary filmmaker Zhang Yimou, has made 1.3 billion yuan as of publication time. The comedy-drama, which explores the legal complexities of justified self-defense, prompted the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to publish a review of the film, praising it for resonating with the public via its relatable plotline.

    Most of this year’s new year films have received positive reviews from filmgoers, including several rated over 7 out of 10 on the leading review platform Douban.

    Though watching a film at the theater has been a Lunar New Year tradition for Chinese people for several years, this year’s extra-long break allowed for some filmgoers to return repeatedly.

    Shanghai resident Chen Liping, 29, has watched four films at the theater this Spring Festival break, which ends on Saturday. Though she was impressed by Jia Ling’s weight loss, her favorite of the lot was “Article 20.”

    For Chen, going to the movie theater has become as integral to celebrating Spring Festival as having a family meal. “This year’s movie tickets were particularly affordable, so I saw more films than in previous years,” she added.

    (Header image: A woman at a movie theater in Huairen, Guizhou province, Feb. 17, 2024. VCG)