Caixin
May 10, 2018 07:27 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

China Quarterly Box Office Tops North America for First Time

Film goers watch a movie on April 27 at a cinema in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong province. Photo: VCG
Film goers watch a movie on April 27 at a cinema in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong province. Photo: VCG

* Domestic movie theaters earn $3.14 billion at the box office in the first quarter

* China’s take for the period exceeds the North American box office total by 42%

(Beijing) — China’s film market has for the first time surpassed North America in quarterly box office revenue, raking in 20 billion yuan ($3.14 billion) from January to March.

The figure, according to domestic industry tracker Maoyan, was 42% higher than a $2.22-billion gross made by North American theaters during the same period, according to data from Box Office Mojo.

The high revenue of the China market was largely down to a historic February that smashed the worldwide monthly box office record for a single market thanks to popular domestic blockbusters during the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday.

The five top-grossing films during the first quarter were all domestic productions, led by action movie “Operation Red Sea.” In recent years, it has become the norm for only domestic movies to be released during the holiday.

But in this quarter, it is likely the China market will be dominated by two foreign blockbusters, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” said Wu Jian, a film industry analyst.

Maoyan has estimated that Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” so far the top-grossing film this quarter in North America after its release on April 27, will take in 480 million yuan on the day it premieres in China on Friday. If achieved, this figure will crush the previous premier record for any non-Chinese production, Wu said. It would even approach the record set by Chinese comedy “Monster Hunt 2,” which took in 543 million yuan on its first day, the highest-grossing premier in Chinese box-office history.

The “Avengers” series has been key to Marvel’s huge success in China. Before the first movie in the series was released in 2012, earning 560 million yuan, Marvel movies averaged under 100 million yuan. However, the dozen or so Marvel movies released after the first “Avengers” movie averaged over 600 million yuan each at the box office, according to a report by Maoyan.

But the Chinese film market might not be as strong in the second quarter, as there won’t be that many popular “tent pole” movies, especially Chinese ones, Wu said.

As Chinese film market has been catching up with its North America counterpart, more and more Hollywood studios have made efforts to attract the country’s moviegoers, such as inviting Chinese A-list talent to play minor roles.

China will eventually overtake North America to be the world’s top movie market, but it isn’t likely to happen this year, said a film industry expert who asked not to be identified.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (renkefeng@caixin.com)

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