Local blockbusters “Operation Red Sea” and “Detective Chinatown 2” powered the Chinese box office to its best-ever first six months of the year, with domestic productions accounting for nearly 60% of receipts, a significant increase from the same period last year.
According to the half-year industry report from China’s Ent Group, box office as of Friday for the first six months of 2018 totaled 31.6 billion yuan ($4.77 billion), with 889 million viewers, up more than 16% from the 27.2 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) recorded in the first half of 2017.
Domestic productions accounted for 18.8 billion yuan ($2.8 billion), or 59.6%, of the total. It was a huge increase from the 10.5 billion yuan ($1.59 billion) that accounted for 39% of total box office during the same period last year. Of the 40 movies released this year that have achieved more than 100 million yuan ($15 million), 18 were domestic productions.
The wild success of homegrown films was driven largely by military blockbuster “Operation Red Sea” and crime thriller “Detective Chinatown 2.” The former raked in more than 3.6 billion yuan ($544 million), becoming the second-highest grossing film of all time in China after last year’s “Wolf Warrior 2.” “Detective Chinatown 2” grossed 3.4 billion yuan ($513 million). Fantasy comedy “Monster Hunt 2” took in 2.2 billion yuan ($332 million).
Box office records show Chinese audiences continue to embrace foreign-language films produced outside of Hollywood, particularly Bollywood. So far this year, four of the five best-performing films imported into China for a flat fee (instead of for revenue-sharing) were Indian titles, with “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” on top, with 285 million yuan ($43 million). “Secret Superstar,” co-produced by Aamir Khan and imported on a revenue-sharing basis, scored the most out of all Indian films in China, earning 747 million yuan ($112.8 million).
China overtook North America as the world’s biggest movie market in the first quarter of 2018 but lost the throne mid-year, with North American box office hitting nearly $6 billion through June.