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    Zhang Yimou’s “Under the Light” Shines Bright at Chinese Box Office

    In a triumphant year for the esteemed 73-year-old director Zhang Yimou, his 26th feature film, the gripping crime drama “Under the Light,” has taken center stage at the Chinese box office. Over the course of the four-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, this cinematic masterpiece has captivated audiences and grossed an impressive $62.6 million, as reported by Artisan Gateway. This achievement follows the monumental success of Zhang’s previous work, the historical mystery thriller “Full River Red” (2023), which dominated China’s Lunar New Year release window in January, raking in an astonishing $673 million—the country’s highest-grossing film this year and the sixth highest of all time.

    The dominance of “Under the Light” shows no signs of waning, with local ticketing app Maoyan projecting that it could potentially amass between $250 million and $300 million in total ticket sales before the curtains close—an accomplishment that would propel Zhang Yimou’s 2023 earnings to nearly $1 billion.

    However, the Mid-Autumn Festival weekend was not without fierce competition. Huayi Brothers Media’s comedy sequel, “The Ex-Files 4: Marriage Plan,” secured the second spot with an impressive $54.3 million, while renowned director Chen Kaige’s Korean War epic, “The Volunteers: To the War,” made a powerful debut with $34.7 million. Audiences were also treated to Herman Yau and Andy Lau’s crime action film “Operation Moscow,” which garnered $23.2 million, and the sports comedy “Lose to Win,” a remake of a popular Spanish film, raking in $7 million.

    On the international front, the sole American release during this period, Paramount/Spin Master’s “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” faced a somewhat subdued opening in China amidst fierce local competition. It managed to secure $5.3 million in its debut, but strong social engagement suggests a promising future throughout the holiday season. Maoyan predicts that “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” could potentially gross nearly $15 million, surpassing the $12.8 million earned by the first Paw Patrol installment in early 2022.

    Delving deeper into the charts, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” continues to hold its ground with modest sales, even a month after its local release. The film’s resilience is further underscored by the 30-day screening extension granted by local regulators. As of now, “Oppenheimer” has amassed a total of $63.7 million, as per data from media company Entgroup, reaffirming Nolan’s enduring appeal in the Chinese market.

    Zhang Yimou’s “Under the Light” stands as a testament to his directorial prowess, continuing to illuminate the Chinese box office and setting the stage for an extraordinary year in cinema. With fierce competition and exciting releases, the Chinese film industry is in the midst of a dynamic and prosperous season, further solidifying its position on the global stage.

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