China Box Office Passes 10 Billion Yuan Milestone

Local pics’ surge may help H’wood

BEIJING — China’s B.O. continues to surge, with 6-month revenues rising by 27% to breach the 10 billion yuan ($1.61 billion) barrier for the first time ever in the first half of the year. Local pics grabbed a muscular 63% market share.

With roughly 10 screens being built a day in China, the demand for content continues to grow. Signs of an expanding market share for Chinese movies is probably good news for Hollywood, as it may help to ease Chinese government fears that foreign content will overwhelm domestic movies if controls are relaxed further.

In the year to June 23, Chinese B.O. was $1.68 billion, up 27% year-on-year. Domestic productions contributed $1.05 billion, grabbing a market share of 63%. This is more than double the figure from the same period last year, and it’s the first time in five years that local Chinese movies have outperformed imported movies in the first half, according to the EntGroup Consultancy in Beijing.

“Ever since the huge success of the low-budget comedy ‘Lost in Thailand,’ which was released in December, Chinese viewers’ enthusiasm and expectations for domestic film productions have jumped,” Huang Ting, industry analyst with EntGroup, told the China Daily.

Popular on Variety

In the first six months, 146 films were screened of which 117 were domestic. Foreign movies’ ticket sales were down 27% year-on-year at $620 million, the report said.

Of the 10 highest-grossing films in the market to date, four of the six domestic ones were screened during the first half, including Stephen Chow’s “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,” which took $200 million and actress-turned-helmer Vicki Zhao’s directorial debut “So Young,” (pictured) which took more than $114 million.

“The quality improvement has been the most critical element in leading domestic films to surpass imported productions in terms of box office revenue,” Huang Qunfei, general manager of Beijing New Film Assn., one of China’s largest theater chains, told local media.

He said he expected imported pics to have a better second half because of the arrival of the summer blockbusters, but overall, Chinese movies are looking at a very good year.

China is now the world’s second-largest movie market behind the U.S., with B.O. of $2.74 billion in 2012, and many forecasts have it nabbing the No. 1 spot within the next five years or so.

In February 2012 the Chinese government expanded the quota of overseas movies from around 20 to 34 per year on a revenue-share basis, including enhanced format pics.

More Film

  • Janicza Bravo attends the LA Premiere

    Why 'Zola' Filmmaker Isn't Sweating the Sundance Premiere

    Writer-director Janicza Bravo is a officially Sundance veteran. “Zola” is her second feature to premiere and her fourth time showing work at the festival. And as a such, she’s taking all of the buzz around her film — based on the 148-Tweet stripper saga that went viral in 2015 — in stride. “I can’t wait [...]

  • Best Picture - 'Green Book'91st Annual

    Film vs TV? In Truth, They've Been Married for 70 Years

    In a prescient Variety column in 1978, reporter Jim Harwood talked about the blurring distinction (artistic and technical) between film and television. He wrote: “Is a ‘motion picture’ any less of an accomplishment if it’s beamed from Hollywood directly to a wall-sized screen in somebody’s home instead of being hauled in cans to something called [...]

  • Miss Americana Taylor Swift

    17 Buzziest Movies at Sundance, From Taylor Swift to Gloria Steinem

    Sundance Film Festival isn’t just a market for independent movies and a place to discover new talent — it’s also a barometer of current moods. In 2020, an election year, it’s not always easy to separate politics from art — and maybe it shouldn’t be, not at Sundance. Hillary Clinton will visit Park City to [...]

  • Emma Tillinger Koskoff

    'Irishman' Producer on Mega-Production Schedule: 'It Was Pretty Insane'

    The numbers for “The Irishman” are staggering: 108 shooting days, 117 locations, 319 scenes, 160 actors, in a story spanning 50 years. “I must say, it was no small feat,” laughs Emma Tillinger Koskoff, who is Oscar-nominated for the film, as well as for “Joker.” “Irishman” is the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) [...]

  • Richard Curtis

    Wealthy Celebrities Call For Higher Taxes in Open Letter From World Economic Forum

    A group of wealthy celebrities and business people have signed an open letter calling on fellow billionaires and millionaires around the globe to support tax increases in an effort to alleviate growing economic disparity. Released on Thursday to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the letter states: “There are two kinds of [...]

  • Bombshell Movie

    Filmmakers Work to Reframe the 'Male Gaze'

    In the opening shot of Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003), Scarlett Johansson is lying on a bed, back to the camera, shown in partial view, wearing underpants. In Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) a banged-up Ryan Gosling stares up at a bone-thin, enormous nude projection of a woman. More recently, Jay Roach’s “Bombshell” [...]

  • Actress Annabella Sciorra (R) arrives to

    Time's Up Lauds Accusers Testifying at Weinstein Trial: 'We Are In Awe of These Women'

    Time’s Up, the anti-sexual harassment advocacy group launched by Hollywood celebrities, commended the women taking the stand at Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial, which is currently underway in New York City. The group released a statement on Thursday morning, shortly ahead of the day in court, which is expected to see testimony from “The Sopranos” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content