“Detective Chinatown 3” lived up to its billing as the likely box office favorite over the Chinese New Year holiday period, with first day grosses passing $150 million by 4pm local time.
Data from ticketing agency Maoyan showed the franchise comedy adventure film as clocking up RMB975 million of revenues, and claiming over 60% of the nationwide box office total. That total was derived from 17.9 million people buying tickets for the first day.
Maoyan’s early forecast for the film’s career total is RMB5.89 billion ($912 million). Forecasts at this stage are subject to revision, but if that were to be achieved, “Detective Chinatown 3” would overtake the RMB5.67 billion of “Wolf Warrior 2” to be the biggest film of all time in China.
Lying in second on Friday, with a 16% market share, was time travel comedy “Hi, Mom” with a haul of RMB262 million ($40.6 million). By mid-afternoon, third place belonged to contemporary literary fantasy “A Writer’s Odyssey” with a 7.5% market share and RMB112 million ($17.3 million) of business.
Directed by Chen Sicheng, and backed by Wanda Pictures, a sister company of China’s largest cinema operator, “Detective Chinatown 3” was given the widest possible launch considering the crowded marketplace. It is expected to have played at over 94,000 screenings by the end of the first day.
That kind of outing, however, was justified by high levels of audience anticipation. The film was the top-selling title in January last year before the coronavirus lockdowns wiped out the entire 2020 Lunar New Year holiday season. And “Detective Chinatown 3” broke records again in recent weeks as advanced sales for the 10-day holiday period reached $140 million.
Initial audience reactions appear extremely positive. Maoyan users gave it an 88% initial satisfaction rating and a critical rating of 9.4 out of ten. Over at Alibaba’s rival ticketing system Taopiaopiao the critical score was 9.3 out of ten. The more cinephile users at movie discussion site Douban gave “Detective Chinatown 3” a more average 6.3 rating. The highest scoring new release is “Odyssey” with a 7.5 score.
Maoyan’s forward booking data, combining sales and pre-sales, shows “Detective Chinatown 3” already confirmed to gross RMB1.40 million ($217 million) over the Friday to Sunday period, though the three-day tally now seems certain to exceed $300 million after spot purchases on Saturday and Sunday are included.