Jan 08, 2019 07:01 PM

Charts of the Day: China's Narrowing Box Office Gap With North America

China’s yearly box office takings still trail North America’s by a significant margin. But the gap narrowed to under $3 billion this year.

A report released by industry data tracker EntGroup Inc. and advertising company Focus Film this month shows China raked in total receipts of 61 billion yuan ($8.9 billion) last year, compared with North America’s $11.8 billion. Both were record highs.

Chinese takings surged ahead of North America's in the first quarter of 2018, but the momentum did not last. The first quarter contains the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, a lucrative time for the Chinese film industry.

China’s year-on-year ticket revenue growth in 2018 was 9.06%, down from 13% the year before. The slower growth came as the film regulator started to ban companies from subsidizing online ticket sales in September, in the harshest film sector crackdown in years.


Domestic films took 37.9 billion yuan, an increase from 28.09 billion yuan the year before, accounting for 62.2% of the total market. Revenue from imported films decreased slightly to 23.08 billion yuan from 24.27 billion.


To shore up its domestic film industry, China currently allows only 34 foreign titles to be screened in the country each year, with foreign studios receiving a 25% share of domestic box office. A separate category allows an additional 30 foreign films to be purchased outright and exhibited by local distributors without giving a cut to foreign studios.

There were signs that China quietly opened-up its cinemas to more foreign films in 2018 to bolster box office numbers, though there was no official announcement, Caixin reported in October.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi (

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