×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China Box Office Overtakes North America in First Quarter of 2018

China’s theatrical box office overtook North America to become the biggest in the world in the first quarter of this year.

Gross theatrical revenues in China amounted to RMB20.2 billion in the three months to the end of March, according to data assembled by Variety from official and industry sources. Using a conservative exchange rate of RMB6.30 to the U.S. dollar, that equates to $3.17 billion. In comparison, North American theaters (comprising those in the U.S. and Canada) enjoyed aggregate revenues of $2.85 billion in the same period, according to data tracking and consultancy service ComScore.

It has frequently been predicted that the film business in China would overtake North America’s. But many forecasters got their timing wrong when more than a decade of unbroken Chinese growth stalled between mid-2016 and mid-2017.

The Chinese data for January to March point to a 39% bounce compared to the first quarter of 2017. However, that surge is unlikely to be sustained through the whole year. Chinese government sources have pointed to a 15% to 20% growth rate as more likely for 2018.

China’s box office in 2017 was RMB55.9 billion, which was reported as $8.6 billion using end 2017 exchange rates. The recent weakening of the dollar against the Chinese currency makes the Chinese figures bigger still.

Patriotic war action film “Operation Red Sea” was the top-scoring film in China in March, with close to $175 million (RMB1.1 billion) earned in the month. Released at Chinese New Year in February, “Operation Red Sea” has a cumulative total in China of $574 million, according to Chinese data service Ent Group. Disney’s “Black Panther” was second in March in China with $105 million (RMB659 million). It was followed by “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” a Hollywood sci-fi fantasy produced by Legendary Entertainment, which owned by China’s Dalian Wanda group.

ComScore showed that North American box office this year dropped by 2.6%, from $3 billion in the first quarter of 2017. That is despite the huge success of “Black Panther,” which recorded $651 million in the quarter, streets ahead of the $380 million of “Beauty and the Beast” in the equivalent period last year.

“The importance of China as a movie market cannot be overstated,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “With homegrown titles such as ‘Detective Chinatown 2,’ ‘Operation Red Sea’ and ‘Monster Hunt ‘ posting massive numbers, along with U.S. titles such as ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Pacific Rim’ and most recently ‘Ready Player One’ relying on the market to bolster their bottom line, China has enjoyed an absolutely incredible first quarter at the 2018 box office.”

More Film

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

  • Lionsgate Hires Lynn Whitney in Marketing

    Lionsgate Hires Former Warner Bros. Exec Lynn Whitney

    Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Lynn Whitney will become head of worldwide paid media, partnerships, promotions and consumer products. Whitney was formerly the executive VP of worldwide media at Warner Bros.   In her new role, Whitney will build out media campaigns for movies like Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s romantic comedy “Long Shot.” “I am [...]

  • El silencio de otros

    Film Review: 'The Silence of Others'

    “Forgiven but not forgotten” is a platitude we routinely use to end disputes both petty and grievous, but it’s the reverse outcome — the mass forgetting of crimes and conflicts never truly resolved — that itches away at a post-Franco Spain in “The Silence of Others.” Soberly chronicling the ongoing legal battle of General Franco’s [...]

  • A Womans Work-The NFLs Cheerleader Problem

    Tribeca Documentaries Explore Gender Issues in Sport

    Up until recently, what it meant to be a professional female athlete in a world dominated by men wasn’t an issue that garnered high volumes of public interest, let alone national headlines. But that all changed in October 2017 when stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper [...]

  • Lizzo Coachella Valley Music and Arts

    Lizzo Joins Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in Stripper Film 'Hustlers'

    After the release of her third album and a pair of high-profile Coachella performances, Lizzo announced today that she will be joining Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in the stripper-themed film “Hustlers.” Based on a true story, the film focuses on strippers who band together to turn the tables on their wealthy Wall Street male [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

  • Marc Malkin The Big Ticket Podcast

    Variety, iHeartMedia Launch New Film Podcast 'The Big Ticket' With Marc Malkin

    Variety and iHeartMedia have announced the premiere of “The Big Ticket,” a new weekly film-focused podcast hosted by Marc Malkin, the magazine’s senior film awards and events & lifestyle editor. The podcast will feature sit-down interviews with Hollywood’s hottest stars and filmmakers talking movies, the business and more. New episodes will be released every Thursday [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content