Asia Expands Domination of Global Box Office

Lost in Hong Kong
Courtesy of Beijing Enlight Pictures

Asia’s domination of the global box office became stronger in 2015, according to the the Motion Picture Association of America’s annual survey of the world’s theatrical business.

With gross theatrical revenues of $14.1 billion in 2015, the Asia-Pacific region is now the largest single component of global box office. It far outstrips Europe, the Middle East and North Africa on $9.7 billion.

Asia overtook North America for the first time in 2013 and has pulled away ever since. In 2015 North American grosses were up 8% at $11.1 billion. That makes Asia 27% bigger than the U.S. and Canada. And Asia  also accounted for 37% of the $38.3 billion global theatrical box office that the MPAA reported for 2015.

Both Asia and Latin America displayed 13% annual growth in 2015, but the much smaller base for Latin America, means that performance in Asia will still weigh more heavily on the global totals — as will its inevitable, eventual deceleration. Between 2014 and 2014, Latin American box office grew from $3.0 billion to $3.4 billion, a gain of $400 million. Box office in Asia grew from $12.4 billion in 2014, an increase of $1.7 billion.

That contrasts with the slow pace of theatrical growth in North America (up 15% since the $9.6 billion score recorded by the MPAA in 2008) and the negligible, sideways performance of Europe. EMENA accounted for $9.6 billion in 2008 and has grown only by $100 million seven years later in 2015. In 2008 EMENA accounted for half (53%) of the international score outside of North America, and one third (35%) of the 2008 global total of $27.7 billion. By 2015 EMENA accounted for only 35% of box office outside North America and just 25% of global.

The Asia Pacific performance is made dramatic by the sensational growth of China, which was worth $2.7 billion in 2012 and soared to $6.8 billion in 2015. But the Asia Pacific region has other star performers.

It now accounts for four of the top five international markets: China (1st), Japan (3rd, $1.8 billion), India (4th, $1.6 billion) and South Korea (5th, $1.5 billion) ahead of the major European markets of France (6th), Germany (7th) and Italy (11th). And with Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the region now accounts for eight of the top 20 theatrical territories.

The MPA report shows that Asia now has the largest number of of cinema screens (56,100 at the end of 2015) compared with 42,600 in North America. Revenue per screen for North America remains marginally higher at $261,000 per year, compared with $251,000 in Asia.

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