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China Box Office Down for Third Month Running

China’s theatrical box office recorded the third consecutive month of decline in November. That puts the full year on course for only a narrow single figure increase.

Theatrical takings in November amounted to RMB2.54 billion, a 5% drop compared with RMB2.66 billion in November 2015. It follows a 19% drop in October and a 33% September on September decline, according to data from Ent Group.

For the year to end of November, Chinese cinemas have recorded gross revenues of RMB41.1 billion, a gain of 3%, compared with the first 11 months of last year. The full-year total was RMB43.9 billion in 2015. December is usually one of the two biggest cinema-going months of the year.

In admissions terms, the first 11 months of this year are 10% ahead of the same point in 2015. Ticket sales reached 1.25 billion, compared with 1.13 billion in January-November 2015.

Average ticket prices have declined by some 15%, from RMB34.9 to a mean RMB30.2. That reflects the weakening, more competitive, market. And it also reflects the expansion of cinema chains into third and fourth tier cities where the cost of living is lower.

China’s film industry regulators have warily allowed more imported films than the normal 34 revenue sharing quotas would suggest. That may give the Hollywood imports a narrow market share victory over China’s local films.

But the 6% weakening of the Chinese currency against the US dollar, spells a reduction in the value of revenues remitted to the stateside headquarters of the Hollywood majors. On Jan. 1 RMB6.49 bought $1. Today it takes RMB6.90 to buy one unit of the US currency.

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