It’s turning into the year of Zhang Yimou at China’s box office. The venerable 73-year-old director’s 26th feature, crime drama Under the Light, topped ticket sales during China’s Mid-Autumn Festival holiday over the past four days, opening to $62.6 million, according to data from Artisan Gateway. This comes after Zhang’s previous feature, the historical mystery thriller Full River Red (2023), dominated China’s previous big holiday release window, the Lunar New Year in January, with a whopping $673 million tally — the country’s biggest haul this year and sixth-biggest of all time. Local ticketing app Maoyan currently forecasts Under the Light to earn between $250 million and $300 million before its run is complete, which would put Zhang close to the $1 billion mark for total ticket sales in 2023.
The Mid-Autumn Festival weekend wasn’t without some spirited competition, however. Huayi Brothers Media’s comedy franchise sequel The Ex-Files 4: Marriage Plan came in second with $54.3 million, while Chen Kaige’s propagandistic Korean War epic The Volunteers: To the War debuted to $34.7 million. Herman Yau and Andy Lau’s crime action flick Operation Moscow opened to $23.2 million and sports comedy Lose to Win, a remake of a hit Spanish film, took in $7 million.
The lone U.S. new release in the market, Paramount/Spin Master’s Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, which won the weekend in North America with $23 million, made a somewhat muted start in China amid all of the local competition. It opened to just $5.3 million, but strong social scores should help it leg out the remainder of the holiday period fairly well. Maoyan forecasts it to earn close to $15 million, which would be an improvement upon the $12.8 million brought in by the first Paw Patrol film in early 2022.
Further down the charts, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer continues to make modest sales a full month after its local launch. The film was granted a 30-day screening extension by local regulators. Some 34-days after its release, Oppenheimer’s total sits at $63.7 million, according to daily data from media firm Entgroup.