Caixin
Jan 08, 2019 07:01 PM
DAILY CHART

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.

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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.

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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 (ziyitang@caixin.com)

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