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China’s Summer Box Office Edges Up, Reaches $2.45 Billion

Theatrical box office in China rose by 1% in the summer season and hit new records in June and August, according to ticketing firm Maoyan.

The recently listed company reported that China’s gross revenues hit RMB17.6 billion in the June-to-August period this year, up from RMB17.4 billion last year and RMB16.3 billion in summer 2017.

Expressed in U.S. dollars, the summer box office total is reported by Maoyan as $2.45 billion. However, the Chinese renminbi (or yuan) has dropped considerably since last summer. The dollar currently buys RMB7.18. In June last year, the exchange rate was RMB6.41 per dollar, an 11% depreciation of the Chinese currency.

Movie ticket sales this summer in mainland China reached 499 million, up from 496 million in 2018, and 474 million in 2017. The average price of a movie ticket was RMB35.3 this summer, up from RMB35 in 2018.

Maoyan omitted to mention that China’s year-to-date box office total is tracking below that of 2018 – more than 2.5% according to other data providers – and that there are some 15% more theaters in operation now than a year earlier. That implies a double-digit decrease in average revenue and ticket sales per screen.

The best-performing movies this summer were the Chinese animation “Nezha” (RMB4.68 billion), Chinese disaster drama “The Bravest” (RMB1.63 billion) and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (RMB1.41 billion). “Nezha” has become the highest-grossing movie in China this year and the second-highest of all time.

The summer season traditionally includes a blackout period, sometimes known as domestic film promotion month, when major imported films cannot be given new releases. This year that regime was softened considerably in order to keep box office from taking a dive.

“About 26 imported movies were released this summer in mainland China, about half of which were animated movies,” Maoyan said. The box office for imported movies accounted for 33% of the total this summer, up from 24% for the summer in 2018. Among the top 10 movies at the box office this summer, five were imported movies.”

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