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Chinese box office: “A Guilty Conscience” tops mainland cinemas

Hong Kong courtroom drama “A Guilty Conscience” overtook Chinese and Hollywood films to top the Chinese box office in its opening weekend.

According to data from advisory service Artisan Gateway, the film grossed $8.5 million (CNY 58.4 million) in its opening three-day period between Friday and Sunday.

“The Wandering Earth 2,” which has been in theaters for over a month, brought in $7.4 million to bring its cumulative total to $568 million.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which opened at the top a week earlier, collected $7.0 million, giving it a 10-day cumulative take of $31.4 million.

Zhang Yimou’s “Full River Red” took fourth place, grossing $5.5 million during its sixth weekend. His cumulative net worth since January 22nd is now $648 million.

Another Lunar New Year release, “Boonie Bears: Guardian Code” took fifth place with $3.9 million over the weekend, good for a cumulative amount of $207 million.

The weekend box office total was a modest $39.6 million, the smallest since China abruptly abandoned strict COVID controls in mid-December.

However, performing “Guilty Conscience” in China has several interesting margins.

Chinese-made films currently struggle to connect with audiences in Hong Kong — Hong Kong audiences viewed both “Wandering Earth 2” and “Full River Red” as disguised propaganda titles and quietly backed away — but the reverse doesn’t seem to be true. TRUE. Most commercial Hong Kong films still seem to be running north of the border.

“A Guilty Conscience” became the highest-grossing film of all time in Hong Kong with the box office exceeding HK$100 million ($12.8 million). Many commentators have attributed its success to the Hong Kong public’s desire for an old-fashioned system of truth and justice. This stance is supported by the success of another courtroom thriller, “The Sparring Partner,” in 2022.

(However, Hong Kong and mainland China have separate legal systems based on very different principles.)

Other commentators have found that the film’s success is rooted in the screenwriting, direction and performances. The film about a lawyer who botches his first big case returns to fight for a bereaved and wrongfully imprisoned client, and is the directorial debut of Jacques Ng Wai Lone. Ng also wrote the script and previously wrote “Anita”, “Cold War 2” and “Unbeatable”.

The film counts a furniture-munching performance from Daewoo Wong Chi-wah, who also starred in last year’s “Table for Six,” and is now the third-highest-grossing Hong Kong film of all time. Also starring Louise Wong, who stars in 2021’s hit “Anita”, Fish Liew, Renci Yeung, Adam Pak and Michael Wong Man-tak.

Artisan Gateway calculates that the mainland China box office is now over $2 billion and is 7% ahead of the same point in 2022.

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