China Box Office: Wuhan Pandemic Tale ‘Chinese Doctors’ Locks Down $53.5 Million Debut

The tear-jerking, patriotic pandemic film “Chinese Doctors” locked down a $53.5 million China opening weekend, according to Maoyan, setting itself up to become the most commercially successful political tribute film so far this year.

Such films have been helped along by a line-up cleared of competitors. This week, only political films, children’s content and a holdover rom-com grossed more than $1 million.

Produced by Bona Film, “Chinese Doctors” is inspired by the real experiences of medical personnel in Wuhan during the early days of the pandemic. It earned more than twice the three-day debut of fellow nationalistic tribute to the Communist Party, “1921,” which earned $21.4 million last weekend. Around $2 million of sales for “Chinese Doctor” came from Imax screens.

This week, “1921” came in second with further sales of $6.58 million, bringing up its cume so far to $64 million. Imax didn’t provide further data as to how much box office it earned from the title.

The two political films went up against new local children’s animations that had little chance of diverting sales away from their box office.

Popular on Variety

“New Happy Dad and Son 4: Perfect Dad,” however, debuted not too far behind “1921” at third with a $5.53 million. The film is the fourth installment of an animated serial adaptation of a beloved 90s animated TV series whose name roughly translated to “Big-Headed Kid and Small-Headed Father.” It tells the story of what happens when the kid character enters a new dimension when he envisions a more perfect version of his father.

In fourth was Chinese children’s animation powerhouse Fantawild’s animation “Realm of Terracotta,” which opened to $4.8 million. It was directed by Lin Yongchang, who has helmed many of the firm’s money-making “Boonie Bears” films.

In comparison, “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” grossed $7.8 million in China its three-day opening last month. It ended its China run this Saturday, coming in ninth with $722,000 over two days this weekend to bring its final sales up to around $31 million, according to Maoyan. Those figures contributed to the film crossing the $100 million mark internationally. Globally, it earned $4.8 million from 38 markets this weekend, Sony Pictures said.

Patriotic historical drama “The Pioneer” grossed $1.67 million to come in fifth, according to Maoyan. It has now grossed a total of $17 million. The similarly patriotic film “Island Keeper,” about a couple defending China’s sovereignty over a desolate island, grossed $1.2 million to hit sixth.

Taiwanese rom-com “Man in Love” hung on in seventh after a month in theaters with $1.02 million, bringing its cume up to $39 million.

Heart-warming Chinese dog-centric fantasy “Bye! Mr. Wang” opened eighth with $900,000.

Other foreign titles still in play include two Oscar winners: Anthony Hopkins-starrer “The Father,” which Maoyan data said earned a further $234,000 to bump sales up to $4.14 million, and animation “Wolfwalkers,” which has earned $195,000 since its debut last Saturday and grossed $1.67 million in China so far.