The Battle At Lake Changjin II Tops The International Box Office With $105 Million Opening Day

Today marks the Lunar New Year (also referred to as the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival) for those of us in the Western Hemisphere, and the international box office is already well under way in reflecting the movies that audiences around the globe have been heading out to see in theaters while ringing in the holiday. As you might expect, the Chinese box office returns are indicative of the much larger population, a particularly robust interest in spectacle and bombast (which certainly isn't much different than in North America), and, unfortunately, the tightly-controlled, government-approved art available to the masses in the first place.

That's the important context surrounding the release of "The Battle of Lake Changjin II," the sequel to the most expensive film ever produced in China and a runaway winner at the box office. Just how high is the anticipation for this epic war film, which the THR report calls a "pseudo-propagandistic action movie" that dramatizes a key Korean War battle that dealt a decisive defeat to United States military forces? The numbers coming in point to early returns of over $100 million ... on only the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday, which spans a full week. Unbelievably, however, that mind-boggling total isn't even a record-setter. That belongs to last year's "Detective Chinatown 3," which earned over $160 million to overtake the North American single-day record of $157 million, which belongs to "Avengers: Endgame."

In any case, state projections anticipate an over $1 billion haul at the end of its run and the movie could very well go on to become China's highest grossing film of all time, according to Variety. The current title of box office champion belongs to the sequel's predecessor, the original "Battle of Lake Changjin," which only released just last year.

Lunar New Year Box Office Returns

In addition to the breakout success of "The Battle at Lake Changjin II," the road-trip comedy film "Only Fools Rush In" came in at second place with $35 million, followed closely by another comedy called "Too Cool to Kill" with $33 million. The rest of the top movies include "Nice View" with $28 million, the animated movie "Boonie Bears: Back to Earth" with $18 million, and Zhang Yimou's "Sharpshooter" with $7.7 million. A complicating factor amid all of this continues to be the potential effect of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, which commences this Friday and will likely cut into China's overall box office returns at the tail-end of the holiday season.

"The Battle at Lake Changjin II" comes from the directing team of Tsui Hark, Dante Lam, and Chen Kaige. The sequel features local action star Wu Jing and "heartthrob" Jackson Yee, all of whom were also involved with the first "The Battle at Lake Changjin." A look at the audience feedback — presuming honest reporting and no misleading funny business, of course — indicate that viewers have responded just as positively to the film as the box office reports would suggest. Ticketing services reported ratings as high as 9.6, culled from tens of thousands of responses. Despite all these gaudy numbers, however, Deadline reports that the pandemic continues to affect the market. The total numbers are down 12% from the year prior, though the incredibly close release schedules between the two "The Battle at Lake Changjin" may play a factor, as well.