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China Box Office Surges in October, Returns to 15% Growth Rate

Theatrical box office in China has bounced back after a lull that worried the industry. Cinema revenues in the first 10 months of the year are up 15% and are within a fraction of last year’s 12-month total.

Data from Chinese research and consultancy company Ent Group show January to October box office of RMB47.8 billion, or $7.01 billion at current exchange rates. That compares with RMB38.0 billion in the equivalent 10-month period last year and with RMB45.5 billion in calendar 2016.

Direct comparisons have been made more complicated since the beginning of this year, when reported data were required to include the booking fees levied by online ticketing agencies. Without those fees, the revenue earned by cinemas in the first 10 months was RMB44.9 billion.

In terms of directly comparable admissions, ticket sales rose 18% from 1.17 billion to 1.38 billion. Average ticket prices nationwide have continued to decrease, however, as theaters have been built in third-, fourth- and fifth-tier cities where prices are lower. In October, entry prices averaged RMB34 ($5.07), down from RMB36 ($5.36) in January.

Driving the resurgence, after a period of single-digit growth from mid-2016 to mid-2017, have been strong performances of local films between August and October, including “Wolf Warriors II,” which has grossed more than $850 million.

October gross revenues (net of fees) were RMB4.80 billion ($716 million). That is a 38% gain on the RMB3.42 billion ($518 million) reported in October last year.

Topping the chart in October was Chinese sports comedy “Never Say Die” with $299 million in the month. It was followed by “Chasing The Dragon” with $78.9 million.

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