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China Box Office Growth Poised for First Half Slowdown

China’s theatrical box office got a bounce in June, but the nationwide total is set to slow to a relatively pedestrian 20% — or less.

Preliminary data from 1905.com, the website of CCTV’s China Movie Channel, show June 2016 grosses of $580 million (RMB3.86 billion. That is an increase of 15% compared with June last year.

For the six months to end of January gross box office looks headed for $3.75 billion. That is only 17% up on the $3.22 billion (RMB20 billion) reported for the first six months of last year.

Official data from the State Administration of Press Publication Radio Film and Television is expected to be published shortly. It will likely provide greater detail of a first half deceleration.

Growth of the Chinese box office had seemed almost unstoppable. And last year it surged by 49% to $6.78 billion for the year. That caused forecasters to bubble with excitement at the prospect of China overtaking the North American annual total by 2017. In fact, first half figures appear to show North American grosses still some 39% ahead, at $5.5 billion.

China’s return to the growth trend in June followed two months where the monthly comparisons were down.

Compounding the current quandary for the Chinese industry, June was completely dominated by Hollywood movies. The preliminary data shows imported titles with over 90% share of the box office, led by substantially Chinese-funded “Warcraft” and “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

While market share growth might appear to be good news for the Hollywood studios, the recent weakening of the Chinese Renminbi against the dollar also slows the U.S. studios’ Chinese revenue growth.

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