Top searches on Douyin: Spring Festival return rush, China's movie market recovery
The bustle of the movie theatres during the Spring Festival holidays is just the beginning of the industry's recovery from the long chill caused by COVID.
For the past week, people across China have been celebrating the Chinese new year, a festival of family reunion and happiness. This year, the year of Rabbit is particularly meaningful because China has relaxed its COVID measures, and many have recovered from the virus. People who haven't returned home for the last three years rushed to book tickets. People who haven't enjoyed vacation trips due to the pandemic flooded historical sites, beaches, and natural parks ... And even those who chose to stay in the city for the festival go to the cinema as they did before the pandemic.
Today's newsletter is about the top ten searches on Douyin, which shows that the pleasant Spring Festival has given people the energy to start a fresh new year.
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Friday's top 10 trending searches on Douyin (the Chinese equivalent of TikTok) as of 6:00 p.m. (1000 GMT)：
#1 Zhang Yi and Shen Teng had collaborated before when they were young
Netizens found that two actors in the Spring Festival blockbuster Full River Red 满江红 have a long history. They had worked together in a TV drama over a decade ago. People were reminiscing about the passing of youth as they shared clips of their old TV drama.
#2 Easter eggs in the movie Full River Red
#3 Spring Festival return rush
#4 Sister-in-law Chen Shuting died [in TV series The Knockout]
Update on the plot of China's TV series The Knockout 狂飙. The show tells a story about a front-line criminal police officer's struggle and fights with local evil forces. It was produced by iQiyi, one of China's biggest video streaming platforms. The audience has rated the series 9.0 out of 10 on the review app Douban, a Chinese social networking service where people discuss books and movies.
#5 Air China responds to turbulence during a flight
Air China's Flight CA8524 from Xi'an, the capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, to Wenzhou, a city in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, ran into strong air turbulence on Friday [video clip on Weibo]. Luckily, the plane landed safely, and nobody on board was hurt due to the incident, according to Air China.
#6 The imposing manner of returning from Dandong Station
Dandong is a coastal city in northeast China's Liaoning Province. And the place is also famous for growing sweet and juicy strawberries. On Friday, the Dandong train station was filled with passengers returning to metropolises, and almost everyone carried several foam boxes with strawberries inside [video on Weibo]."They're taking the taste of hometown with them," said one comment.
#7 An earthquake of 2.1 magnitude shakes Kunming
China Earthquake Networks Center reported on Friday afternoon that a 2.1 magnitude earthquake jolted Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province. Some people in Kunming said online that they felt the shake, but there were no reports of casualties.
#8 Movie Daxishi [Big merry event] goes online today
A Romantic comedy produced by the online streaming platform iQiyi was released on Friday.
#9 Simmons announced donations to China
NBA basketball player Ben Simmons greeted his Chinese fans for the Chinese new year on his Douyin (China's version of Tiktok) channel. In the greeting video, he said, "to celebrate the start of the new year and fresh hopes, I'm excited to announce I'll be creating opportunities for the youth in China to play basketball by helping refurbish basketball courts."
#10 Day six: Driving away the Ghost of Poverty
During the Chinese new year, there are a set of traditional customs. The Sixth day is about sending the Ghost of Poverty away. In many places, people throw away ragged clothes and clean up the house to get a fresh start to a lucky and happy new year.
#3 Spring Festival return rush
With the Spring Festival holiday drawing to an end, China's highways, railways and airports are seeing a surge of people returning from family reunions and festival celebrations.
The country saw more than 43.56 million passenger trips on Thursday, the sixth day of the seven-day holiday, a rise of 23.4 percent from Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Transport.
The volume was 85.9 percent higher than the same period in 2022, but still 46.9 percent lower than the pre-pandemic level in 2019.
Of the total, nearly 10.29 million were train trips, up 54.3 percent year on year, and the number of road trips increased by 101.8 percent to 30.72 million. Thursday also saw a 58.3 percent rise in air trips and a 98.9 percent hike in waterway trips.
With China recently downgrading its management of COVID-19, unleashing pent-up travel demand, legions of tourists have again been spotted across China during the week-long Spring Festival holiday that started on Saturday.
In response, local governments and industries are rolling out festive activities, lively bazaars and shopping coupons in all-out efforts to buoy the long-awaited recovery from the COVID-19 doldrums.
This year's Spring Festival is the first in three years not to encourage Chinese people to stay put during the festival to prevent large-scale outbreaks. The festival usually sees hundreds of millions of Chinese head to their hometowns to unite with families.
Passenger trips for this year's Spring Festival travel rush are expected to reach 2.1 billion, almost twice as much as last year or 70.3 percent of the 2019 reading, according to the Ministry of Transport.
The lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions, coupled with subsiding infections in many Chinese cities, have fanned the travel frenzy, which also features travelers returning home from overseas.
Data from online travel agency Trip.com Group points to a surging demand for Spring Festival travels and sightseeing. Reservations for domestic group tours during the holiday, for instance, registered a yearly increase of 354 percent as of Jan. 15.
To cope with the sudden surge of passengers, train stations and airports in big cities have made extra preparations. Moreover, in Beijing, multiple metro lines extended the operation time by an hour to facilitate passengers. The city has also arranged more buses at stations to ensure passengers arriving late still get access to public transportation on the ground, according to Shanghai Securities News.
#2 Easter eggs in the movie Full River Red
The Spring Festival holidays are approaching the end. However, people are still avidly talking about the box-office winner Full River Red, including character relationships, popular clips, and the real history details behind the movie.
Full River Red is a historical suspense comedy directed by Zhang Yimou 张艺谋, the two-time chief director of China's Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. The movie focuses on investigating a mysterious murder case in the Southern Song Dynasty.
As of Friday, new films released during the Spring Festival holidays have created revenue of about 6.7 billion yuan (about 987.7 million U.S. dollars), and Full River Red has accounted for around 39 percent of the total box office, ranking first with 2.65 billion yuan worth of revenue. While the sequel to the Chinese sci-fi hit The Wandering Earth ended up the runner-up in the box office fight with around 2.2 billion yuan, according to Yicai.
"What touched the audience was not the comedy or the suspense," commented Xinmin Evening News, a Shanghai-based newspaper, adding that the success of Full river Red lies in its sincere storytelling. It was about how a small figure's story embodied solemn nationalism, and "it's hard not to fall for the director's romanticism."
Views on the Internet believe that the bustle of the movie theatres during the Spring Festival holidays is just the beginning of the industry's recovery from the long chill caused by COVID. For the coming months of 2023, multiple foreign and domestic films, including Black Panther II and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, have announced release schedules. They will bring a feast to the eye and a warm spring to China’s movie market.