You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Chinese Box Office Set for More Explosive Growth

Top market for 'Pacific Rim, 'Cloud Altas'

China’s appetite for movies — both American and local — is far from being satisfied, setting up the Chinese box office for more explosive growth in coming years.

That was the overriding sentiment expressed at Saturday night’s “China’s Entertainment Industry: The Next Chapter” panel at the Beverly Hilton Hotel as part of the awards ceremonies for the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition.

“I don’t think it’s quite registered in Hollywood how important China will be,” noted moderator Robert Cain, a partner in production company Pacific Bridges.

Cain predicted that the the Chinese box office will be double the U.S. box office within 10 to 15 years.

SEE ALSO: China Box Office Worth $5 Billion to Studios by 2017

“There’s an immediacy to the hunger of the Chinese audience for films,” noted Michael Andreen, veteran Hollywood exec who became CEO of Beijing-based Le Vision Pictures earlier this year.

The surging Chinese box office was up 36% in the first half of this year to $1.79 billion, and it’s seen impressive grosses for homegrown films such as “Tiny Times,” “Journey to the West,” “So Young” and “Lost in Thailand,” which has topped $200 million.

Chinese audiences are also offering solid support to U.S. films — so much so that China was the world’s top box office market for “Pacific Rim” ($112 million vs. $101 million in the U.S.), “Jurassic Park 3D” ($56 million vs. $45 million in the U.S.) and “Cloud Atlas” ($27.7 million vs. $27 million in the US).

Christopher DeHau Lee, whose Dreams of Dragon Pictures  noted that “Cloud Atlas” was able to achieve its gross in China despite opening three months after the U.S. release — meaning that pirated versions were widely available by then. Chinese censors also cut more than half an hour of the film.

“That’s quite a feat for a film that most people didn’t understand,” Lee noted. “It really is a spectacular film. It really gives the audiences what they want, and it has one of China’s biggest stars in Zhou Xun.”

Bennett C. Pozil of East West Bank, who was involved in financing “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in 2000, said he’s hopeful that American audiences of the new Chinese films from young directors. “They are as good as anything we are turning out here,” he added.

Veteran producer Sid Ganis agreed. “In terms of storytelling, the Chinese know what they’re doing,” he noted.

Ganis, the former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, recently helped broker a deal for Raleigh Studios to manage the massive Wuxi Studio project outside of Shanghai — which is aimed at drawing Hollywood productions when it’s completed.

Wall Street analyst Jessica Reif Cohen recently noted that BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research estimates the Chinese box office could yield $5 billion in value potential for Hollywood studios by 2017 vs. approximately $2.2 billion today, including imported and local productions (with this figure potentially doubling under further relaxed regulatory conditions).

Saturday’s event concluded with Galen Tong receiving the $15,000 grand prize for his script “The Monkey King,” set amid the Boxer Rebellion.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Sean Clarke Aardman Staff Photography Bristol.Pic

    Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

    Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade. [...]

  • The Antenna

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Antenna'

    Jump scares, creepy noises and the tease of hidden-from-view dangers are all fine. But a truly frightening horror film unsettles with more than its crafts, but instead through the vulnerability of defenseless people stuck with bad options only. First-time writer-director Orçun Behram’s highly stylized and mildly disturbing “The Antenna,” a metaphor on Turkey’s current ruling [...]

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content