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China Box Office: ‘The Invisible Guest’ Opens on Top, While ‘Wonka’ Wilts and ‘Migration’ Misses Out

Two Hollywood films “Wonka” and “Migration” opened in Chinese cinemas over the latest weekend. But neither did enough business to appear among the box office top five.

Instead, the weekend crown went to “The Invisible Guest,” a Chinese remake of the 2016 Spanish mystery thriller about a woman who must work with a police officer to clear her name after her lover is found dead in a locked room. It earned a modest $12.6 million (RMB89.6 million), according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. (The original Spanish picture previously released in Chinese theaters in 2017.)

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The remake, which rewrites the script to include a greedy cop trying to extort the alleged murderer, a courageous mother who has suffered at the hands of authority and the son of a prominent politician, is backed by streamer iQiyi and is directed by Chen Zhuo. It stars Greg Hsu, Janine Chang, Kara Wai and Zheng Yin.

Another Chinese new release took second place. “Love Life Light,” released by Enlight Pictures, took $10.1 million (RMB71.9 million). Including previews, its cumulative score now totals $14.5 million.

Wanda Pictures’ “Endless Journey” took third place in a weekend of previews ahead of its official release on Friday (Dec. 15). It earned $8.4 million (RMB59.7 million) between Friday and Sunday and already has a $9.2 million total in the bank.

Falling from second to fourth place, “So Long for Love” earned $7.2 million (RMB51 million), for a cumulative of $27.2 million (RMB193 million) since opening on Dec. 1. Bona Film’s “Bursting Point” took fifth place with $7.12 million (RMB50.9 million) and a total including previews of $8.1 million.

Chinese local data providers estimate that “Wonka” ranked seventh in China on its debut weekend. Early Warner estimates reported by Variety pointed to a gross of $3.2 million in the country. Ent Group reported a provisional $3.45 million. Ticketing agency Maoyan reported the film as taking RMB23.3 million and revised its forecast upwards to RMB38.5 million or $5.45 million.

Warner said that outbreaks of flu and cold weather may have depressed ticket sales. But that appears not to have affected other titles. Overall box office in China over the weekend was $60.3 million, compared with $55 million a week earlier.

Universal’s “Migration” animation earned $1.07 million on its opening weekend in China, according to Ent Group. According to Maoyan, the figure was RMB7.2 million. Its forecast is for the film to finish with RMB9.6 million of $1.35 million.

China’s year-to-date box office now stands at $7.31 billion, which Artisan Gateway calculates as 82% better than this point in 2022 and 15% below comparable 2019 performance. It is almost exactly a year ago this week that Beijing abruptly lifted its strict anti-COVID controls, giving Chinese film distributors and exhibitors a much-needed fillip after a desolate nine-month depression.

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