For many in the West, 2016 will be remembered for Trump, Brexit, terrorism in Europe and an absurd number of pop culture deaths, from Bowie to Muhammad Ali. By comparison, China had an unusually quiet year. Nonetheless, there were still a few goings-on in the world's most populous country.
In our 2016 Year in Review series, we recap the best (and worst) of China's year in the worlds of technology, social media, sport, fashion, food, arts and more.
After five straight years of unprecedented growth, China's box office stumbled due to issues from a maturing market to crackdowns on box office fraud. Regardless, mainland China remains a major power that some analysts predict will pass the United States as early as next year as the world's biggest movie market. Here's what China ended up watching in 2016. For Part 2, click here.
10. The Jungle Book
Gross: RMB979 million
Buoyed by hype over the opening of Shanghai Disney, the mouse's film division enjoyed Disney films enjoyed their most successful year in China. Known locally as Fantasy Forest, Jon Favreau’s live 3D adaptation of Rupyard Kipling’s classic benefited from scoring a coveted same day global release and opened with a respectable USD12 million opening day. The critically acclaimed film was a steady presence at the Chinese box office with word of mouth leading it to being the 25th highest grossing film in China of all time.
9. Kung Fu Panda 3
Gross: RMB1.002 billion
Oriental Dreamworks made an impressive debut with the Shanghai based studio co-producing the third entry in the hit animated series. Jack Black once again voices Po, who must save China from the villanious spirit warrior Kai, Kung Fu Panda 3 was given a limited release a week earlier before its United States release. Despite its strong opening, the film’s success in China was relatively short lived due to the unfortunate timing of its release: a week before Lunar New Year where millions of people are traveling (aka. the world's largest annual migration) with its buzz evaporating due to the release of domestic blockbusters given a coveted Spring Festival opening release.
Gross: RMB1.004 billion
In a disappointing summer of domestic films, this fantasy-action-adventure film was one of the shining lights. Released by Le Vision Pictures, the film is based on the hit online novel series Daomu Biji (Graveyard Chronicles), which has already spawned an equally successful TV series. Young stars Lu Han and Jing Boran, as well as a cameo from Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat, ensured that Time Raiders would appeal to the youth - especially important as the film was savaged by critics.
7. From Vegas to Macau III
Gross: RMB1.118 billion
The iconic 1980s Hong Kong film franchise God of Gamblers has found revived life in this updated franchise. Chow-Yun Fat stars as a charming card shark (even reviving his iconic character from God of Gamblers for a cameo), while the action comedy film is packed with cameos from Hong Kong stars like Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and Carina Lau (with K-pop star Psy also showing up). While the From Vegas to Macau series may lack the satirical bite of the original, it has become a veritable Mainland China Spring Festival tradition - its three films have each been the second biggest holiday hit in the past three years finishing only behind a Monkey King film, a Stephen Chow film or in next year's case, Stephen Chow's Monkey King film.
6. Operation Mekong
Gross: RMB1.184 billion
Award-winning Hong Kong action director Dante Lam (Beast Stalker) lends his kinetic touch to this crime film inspired by the Mekong Massacre - a 2011 incident that occurred in Chiang Rai Province where 13 Chinese crew members from two cargo ships were murdered by a Myanmar drug-trafficking ring. Zhang Hanyu and Eddie Peng star as elite narcotics officers sent by the Chinese government to the Golden Triangle to uncover the truth behind murders and to lead a multi-government joint task force to take down the notorious drug cartel leader behind it all.