Moviegoing in China during the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday has become essential recreation for many Chinese families in recent years. The past two years in particular have each established new box office records for the highest grossing seven-day period in any single territory.
The largest daily totals occur on the first day of the Lunar New Year when heavy ticket subsidies push down prices as low as RMB 9.9 (~$1.50).
The chart above compares daily box office totals during the 2016 holiday (February 8 – February 14) and this year’s holiday (January 28 – February 3).
As the holiday progresses and subsidies dry out, we can see moviegoing demand dwindling, indicated by downward trajectories in both years.
In China’s social media-dominated ecosphere, word-of-mouth additionally plays a critical role. In 2016, word-of-mouth made The Mermaid a cultural phenomenon, as well as China’s all-time highest grossing film with more than $500 million in ticket sales.
Because none of 2017’s Lunar New Year releases were able to replicate that success, daily box office fall-off in 2016 was more gentle than this year. Additionally, Valentine’s Day coincided with the final day of the 2016 holiday period, giving the box office a significant boost.