The Chinese war movie “The Eight Hundred” upset major American blockbusters over the weekend by officially becoming the world’s top-earning movie of the year 2020.
While the victory comes with the caveat of the international box office being in shambles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the movie marks a big win for the Beijing-based studio Huayi Brothers Media and director Guan Hu. This is especially impressive for “The Eight Hundred” at a time when Disney’s “Mulan” is in theaters in China where it’s underperforming despite a predominantly Chinese cast telling a story based on a Chinese legend that takes place in China.
According to Forbes, “The Eight Hundred” has earned a stunning $419.23 million in the country where many theaters are open, including a $17.6 million fifth-weekend gross. As a result, once global grosses are factored in, it bests the previous 2020 highest-grossing film, “Bad Boys for Life,” which clocked in at about $425 million when it dropped earlier this year.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that “Mulan,” meanwhile, earned just $6.5 million in its second weekend at the Chinese box office, down 72% from its opening weekend. The film's worldwide theatrical results come in at around $57 million, which doesn’t come close to making up for its estimated $200 million production cost.
Since dropping, the live-action remake has been marred by bad press surrounding both its star and Disney’s decision to film in the controversial Xinjiang province, where human rights abuses are said to be taking place against the Uighur Muslim people.
The outlet reports that with the North American box office only limping along as people remain unwilling to go to the theater and key markets in New York City and Los Angeles still closed, “The Eight Hundred” has been able to single-handedly help China’s theater industry bounce back after the pandemic.