The Battle at Lake Changjin

The movie market in China

The Battle at Lake ChangjinI was falling down a rabbit hole, looking at 2021 box office grosses for movies. I knew Spider-Man: No Way Home had the largest gross sales.
DOMESTIC (45.3%) $627,428,198
INTERNATIONAL (54.7%) $759,000,000
WORLDWIDE $1,386,428,198

It’s interesting how well the film did in so many countries: $44.7M in France, $61.4M in the UK, and almost $41M in South Korea. But not in China.

Whereas for The Battle at Lake Changjin, almost all of the revenue is from China.
DOMESTIC (–) (Released Nov 19, 2021) $342,390
INTERNATIONAL (100%) $902,198,524
United Kingdom (Nov 19, 2021) $63,392
Australia (Dec 2, 2021) $138,739
Hong Kong (Nov 11, 2021) $2,596,393
China (Oct 1, 2021) $899,400,000
WORLDWIDE $902,540,914

And what IS this film? “Set in the Second Phase Offensive of the Korean War, ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ tells an epic historical tale: 71 years ago, the People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) entered North Korea for battle. Under extreme freezing conditions, the troops on the Eastern Front pursued with fearless spirit and iron will, as they courageously fought the enemy at Lake Changjin (also known as Chosin Reservoir). The battle was a turning point in the Korean War and demonstrated the courage and resolve of the PVA.”

In fact, 108 of the 200 top-grossing films have 0% sales in the United States. Another five got 0.1% of its box office from the US. Six of the eight critics in Rotten Tomatoes panned it.

Time travel

Number 3 on the list is Hi, Mom: “A woman travels back in time to befriend her own mother in an attempt to make her life better.” Though it had a limited box office in Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, $821M of the $822M in sales were in China, with none from the US. The four critics in RT liked it a lot.

The fourth film was No Time To Die, the most recent James Bond film
DOMESTIC (20.8%) $160,772,007
INTERNATIONAL (79.2%) $613,262,000
WORLDWIDE $774,034,007
The list of countries is lengthy and broad.

F9: The Fast Saga ranks number 5.
DOMESTIC (23.8%) $173,005,945
INTERNATIONAL (76.2%) $553,223,556
WORLDWIDE $726,229,501
Lots of countries are represented as well, though China is quite important with almost $217M in ticket sales.

Movies into musicals

I started thinking about this when I read what Mark Evanier wrote about movie musicals. “There are 27 (!) stage musicals which are ‘in development’ as movies.” Given the lackluster box office of In the Heights and West Side Story, most of these films probably won’t be made.”

West Side Story
DOMESTIC (54.4%) $30,271,174
INTERNATIONAL (45.6%) $25,331,328
WORLDWIDE $55,602,502
Nothing from China

In the Heights
DOMESTIC (68.1%) $29,879,041
INTERNATIONAL (31.9%) $14,000,000
WORLDWIDE $43,879,041


I read that This Year, Hollywood’s China Relationship Finally Unraveled. It doesn’t matter how accommodating the industry may be — the next phase of the Xi Jinping era may be defined by less space for Western content.

“Despite attempts to make it past China’s censors, Space Jam: A New Legacy never received a release in China this summer and scored just $162.8 million worldwide… — Disney received the same cold shoulder when it came to its Marvel tentpoles Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and The Eternals, films that were built around Chinese talent in order to make a giant showing in the market. But to no avail.

“Neither film was given a release in the country that continues to take heat for reported human rights abuses. Hollywood’s silence on those abuses has become deafening as other industries and entities have begun to confront China. In fact, 2021 — with its diminishing economic returns in the country — might mark the year that finally cooled the Hollywood-China romance.

“The reversal of fortunes in China has begun to accelerate in the past year. In 2021, just 25 U.S. movies were released theatrically in the country, many of which were minor indie titles instead of studio tentpoles. By contrast, some 45 Hollywood movies were shown on Chinese screens in 2019. That is forcing the major studios to pivot on their China ambitions, mostly because there is little to no growth to be attained in the country in the current climate… “

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “The Battle at Lake Changjin”

  1. This makes me wonder if Hollywood and or other major players will put pressure on US foreign policy toward China. Maybe they already have done so.

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