×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China Box Office Expands by $2 Billion to Hit $8.6 Billion in 2017

Imported and local titles shared the bounty as China’s box office grew by 14% in local currency terms in 2017. In U.S. dollars the gain was 30%, and shows China continuing as the main driver of global box office expansion.

Data published on New Year’s Day by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television showed gross box office in China expanding from RMB45.7 billion in 2016 to RMB55.9 billion in 2017. Using year-end exchange rates ($1 = RMB 6.94 on Jan. 1, 2017, and RMB6.50 on Jan. 1, 2018), China’s box office was $6.59 billion in 2016 and fully $2 billion higher in 2017 at $8.6 billion.

Complicating direct comparisons is the inclusion in the 2017 data of fees charged by online ticket sellers as part of the gross figure. Stripping these out reduces the like-for-like gain by about four or five percentage points.

Nonetheless, China gave the worldwide box office a big boost it would have otherwise lacked. U.S.-based data service ComScore said Sunday that global box office increased by $1.1 billion in 2017 to $$39.9 billion. Within that total, North American theatrical revenues dipped fractionally to $11.12 billion in 2017, and international grew by $1.4 billion to $28.8 billion. Without the Chinese contribution, both the international and the overall performances would have been negative.

Within China, local films ground out a win thanks to the stellar performance of films including “Wolf Warriors II,” which earned more than  $860 million. Market share for Chinese-language movies and Chinese co-productions was 53.8%, down from 58% in 2016 and 61% in 2015. Beginning this month, the Chinese government will offer financial incentives to theaters that increase the performance of local titles.

In cash terms, revenues for local films increased from RMB26.7 billion in 2016 to RMB30.1 billion in 2017. For international films the increase was higher, with revenues jumping from RMB19 billion to RMB25.8 billion. The strengthening of the Chinese currency against the dollar made those gains still more valuable to Hollywood.

Another indication of the performance of the Chinese theatrical market was the growth of ticket sales. These increased by 18% from 1.37 billion in 2016 to 1.62 billion in 2017. That means theatrical movie consumption in China – the world’s most populous nation – is now higher than one ticker per person per year, for the first time in the modern era.

The ticket data, however, also point to two other weaker trends: continuing ticket price deflation, as the average price is brought down by cinema-building in smaller, less wealthy towns and cities; and declining revenues per screen. The SAPPRFT data show that the number of screens in operation increased by 23% from 41,179 at the end of 2016 to 50,776 at the end of 2017.

The agency also reported that overseas box office of Chinese films and co-production increased by 11% to RMB4.25 billion ($653 million).

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Julia Roberts Harriet Tubman

    Studio Exec Suggested Julia Roberts Play Harriet Tubman, 'Harriet' Screenwriter Says

    Multi-talented multi-hyphenate Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’ biopic “Harriet.” But according to “Harriet’s” screenwriter, Gregory Allen Howard, Julia Roberts — yes, white woman Julia Roberts — was once suggested by a studio executive to play the role. In a Q&A for “Harriet” studio Focus Features as well as a piece for the [...]

  • Atlantics

    Variety Names 10 Directors to Watch for 2020

    Before film critics start summing up the present year at the movies with a deluge of Top 10 lists, Variety gazes into the medium’s future by announcing its annual 10 Directors to Watch — a lineup of filmmaking talents who’ve stood out on the recent festival circuit, or whose movies will soon be hitting screens [...]

  • Napa Valley Film Festival Winners: 'Lucky

    'Lucky Grandma' Wins Napa Valley Film Festival Narrative Feature Prize

    “Lucky Grandma,” “The Remix: Hip Hop in Fashion” and “The Nomads” were among the winners of the Napa Valley Film Festival, which ran Nov. 13-17 in various towns in the valley. The winner of the narrative feature was “Lucky Grandma,” presented by ZD Wines, which won a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley. [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    'Ad Astra' to Blast Off in China in December

    The Brad Pitt-starring sci-fi blockbuster “Ad Astra” will land in Chinese theaters on December 6, more than two months after its U.S. debut. Directed, co-written and produced by James Gray (“The Lost City of Z,” “Two Lovers”), the thriller also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland and Ruth Negga. Pitt plays an astronaut [...]

  • Fred Wolf to Direct 'Love 40'

    Film News Roundup: Fred Wolf to Direct Tennis Rom-Com 'Love 40'

    In today’s film news roundup, Fred Wolf is directing a romantic comedy in New York; Leah Remini, Chinoye Chukwu, Marielle Heller and Lulu Wang receive honors; and the topless bar documentary “Red Dog” finds a home. ‘LOVE 40’ Bluewater Lane Productions has brought on Fred Wolf to co-write and direct the romantic comedy “Love 40,” [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Lupita Nyong'o Follows Hollywood's Tradition of Two Roles in One Film

    Peter Sellers played three roles in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 “Dr. Strangelove.” In December of that year, Variety reported that Columbia was mounting an Oscar campaign for lead actor, but was also considering three supporting-actor campaigns, for each of his characters. (They settled on one campaign, and Sellers’ nomination as lead actor was one of the [...]

  • 'Legion' TV show premiere

    Noah Hawley to Write and Direct Next 'Star Trek' Movie

    “Fargo” and “Legion” creator Noah Hawley has been tapped to write and direct the next installment of the “Star Trek” franchise, sources tell Variety. Though plot details are being kept under wraps, sources tell Variety the next “Star Trek” is expected to see Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Zoe Saldana returning to man [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content