Feb 11, 2019 06:58 PM

Chart of the Day: China’s Barely Record-Breaking Box Office

China’s box office hit a record high for this year’s Lunar New Year holiday, even though cinema ticket sales came in below analyst expectations as growth slowed to its weakest pace in years.


Box office revenue for the week inched up 0.5% from the previous year to 5.8 billion yuan ($855.15 million), falling well below the growth rate of 68% for the previous Lunar New Year period, according to Dengta, a film analytics platform backed by Alibaba Pictures.

The flat growth in box office revenue came despite a 23% increase in the number of screenings this year, according to Dengta. Ticket prices rose 13% from the previous year to a nationwide average of 44.8 yuan. Film admissions for the week shrank 10% year-on-year to 130 million.

The rise in ticket prices was the main force driving up revenue this year, but it also led to a loss of price sensitive movie goers, according to a research note (link in Chinese) published Monday by Citic Securities. The note also blamed this year’s drop in admissions on a high 2018 baseline and widespread film piracy.

Dengta had expected (link in Chinese) the box office for the Lunar New Year week to hit 7.2 billion yuan. Analysts from China International Capital Corp. had estimated (link in Chinese) the box office to come in somewhere between 5.9 billion yuan and 7.2 billion yuan.

The seven days starting the eve of Lunar New Year have become a peak season for film releases in China. The year, eight films were released from Feb. 4 to Sunday.

The top three films at the box office last week were “The Wandering Earth,” “Crazy Alien” and “Pegasus.” “The Wandering Earth,” a Chinese science fiction movie based on a novel by Liu Cixin, earned 2 billion yuan during the week, according to Maoyan, a movie ticketing platform backed by Tencent. “Crazy Alien” took in around 1.4 billion yuan and “Pegasus” generated 1 billion yuan.

Contact reporter Charlotte Yang (

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