#49 China’s New Year box office bonanza


Play episode:

Last year, as COVID-19 cases spiked around the world, many thought cinemas would die. China’s box office sales from the past few months tell a different story. The country’s film market broke several world records in 2021, selling roughly $1.2 billion in tickets. Although theaters in the U.S., which are the primary competitors of theaters in China, have been closed, more and more Chinese people continue to head to the movies. One of the secret weapons is the production of a “Chinese New Year film” for the whole family. Ye Qing, a culture reporter at CGTN, and Cheng Rui, a producer at Wanda Studios, joined Aladin to talk about the winning recipe for success at this year’s box office and discuss how these films are made.

Middle Earth is made by China Compass Productions. If you have a China-themed cultural project, please get in touch!

With thanks to Brenden Gonsalves for graphic design and Sean Calvo for music support.


The 1997 movie The Dream Factory (甲方乙方 jiǎfāng yǐfāng).

The 2002 movie Fat Choi Spirit (呖咕呖咕新年财 lìgū lìgū xīnnián cái).

Answers to the quiz:

Detective Chinatown 2 made only 0.4% of its box office sales outside of China.

The 1981 movie In-Laws (喜盈门 xǐ yíngmén) sold 469 million tickets.  

The 2008 movie If You Are the One (非诚勿扰 fēichéng wùrǎo) shares the same name as the Jiangsu TV dating show.