Already the top film of 2021 globally, Chinese war epic The Battle At Lake Changjin is taking over the title of highest grossing movie ever in China, edging the previous leader, 2017’s Wolf Warrior 2. Through Wednesday evening local time, Lake Changjin had reached an estimated RMB 5.693B ($890M) after 56 days in release. Wolf Warrior 2 finaled at RMB 5,694.5M according to ticketing platform Maoyan. Presales alone for Thursday narrow the gap to a difference of about $2,000 making Lake Changjin‘s ascendance imminent. Maoyan is predicting an RMB 5.75B ($900M) finish for the full run which is due to end December 30.
The news, which had been expected, is making headlines in China where local outlets are including the presales to claim the crown for the patriotic Lake Changjin. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian praised the achievement on social media today, offering his “congratulations” to actor Wu Jing “for surpassing himself.”
Wu starred in Wolf Warrior 2 and also leads Lake Changjin. He will star again in the sequel, Water Gate Bridge, which is expected in 2022.
With a 9.5 score from local audiences, Lake Changjin opened for the National Day holiday, breaking several box office records over the frame.
Directed by Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam, The Battle At Lake Changjin is set during the Second Phase Offensive of the Korean War (or the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea, as it’s known locally) and tells the story of the People’s Volunteer Army entering North Korea for the titular battle which was a turning point in the conflict. Read Deadline’s review here.
The new milestone comes after China’s Film Administration earlier this month outlined its 14th “Five-Year Plan” for the development of Chinese films with plans to increase movie screens, promote 10 domestic tentpoles each year and which calls for 50 films per annum to earn more than RMB 100M ($15.6M) in the market. Domestic movies should also account for over 55% of the total annual box office.
As of mid-November, the world’s biggest box office market had passed RMB 43B ($6.7B) for 2021. Hollywood has been kept somewhat on the sidelines this year with Marvel movies notably getting a pass from China. On deck is Warner Bros’ The Matrix Resurrections which has been approved for release and is awaiting a date.