Official figures released by China‘s film watchdog the SAPPRFT show 2013′s box office tally through November 25th was 19.3B yuan ($3.17B). That’s a 17.4% leap over 2012′s full take of $2.7B. But with only a month to go in the country that now has over 17,600 screens, will China be able to maintain the kind of growth it’s seen in recent years? The jump in 2012 was 35% and the year prior about 30%. A last-minute surge this year is likely, says Rob Cain, a producer in both the U.S. and China who writes the ChinaFilmBiz blog. That’s because there is a host of local movies on deck which he estimates stand to bring in about $500M by the end of December. If the math is correct, that would put 2013 about 36% above 2012.
Related: UK-China Co-Production Treaty Inches Closer
There are no more big U.S. productions expected to release in 2013, but November has been relatively good to Hollywood in China. The town’s movies are faring better than in the first half of the year when market share was down 21.3% year-on-year and imports to China had only $717M in sales. This quarter, U.S. films have about 55% of the market. Recent titles to go out include Escape Plan, Thor: The Dark World, Gravity and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Gravity just added $20.7M in its second week on 5,854 screens for a 13-day cume of $56.7M. Released a day after Gravity, Catching Fire did not have the same impact. Its worldwide success is undeniable: in the first 11 days of international release, the film has nearly equaled the entire international run of the first Hunger Games. It has $24.2M through Sunday in China, nearing the $27.9M lifetime gross of the original in the territory. I understand that Lionsgate execs are happy with the performance and Cain says it “looks like it will do better than the first one.” However, he opines, “In a market that’s grown by 80% [since the original was released] that’s not saying that much.” Another exec familiar with China tells me that Catching Fire likely suffered from the head-to-head positioning against Gravity. The exec says, “Bureaucrats try to stack the deck… and that causes a cannibalization of those films.” Cain agrees it may have been a factor that the films were released so close together — China “had to get the last few quota films out before December” — but also says the Hunger Games books and films haven’t been part of the zeitgeist in Asia. In his blog, he noted that Gravity benefited from a “liberal use of James Cameron’s quote calling it ‘The best space film ever’.” China is known as an especially brand-conscious country and Cameron’s Avatar is still the highest-grossing film there ever. Read More »
In a reversal of fortune, ticket sales for Chinese movies skyrocketed in the first half of 2013 to dominate the home market. Local films grossed 6.85B yuan ($1.1B), for a 144% increase on last year. Imported movies lost 21.3% of their market share with sales of $717M. Total box office for the first semester was $1.79B, up 36.2% year-on-year according to figures released by government agency the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
Leading the charge for Chinese movies this year is Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons which opened in February and had taken $203.7M by the end of June. Despite the downturn in U.S. movie fortunes, Iron Man 3 was the second biggest grosser of the six month period at $123M, the figures showed, according to China Daily. So Young, the drama directed by actress-turned-helmer Vicki Zhao Wei which broke opening day records in April, rounds out the top three at $117M. Of the top 10 titles, four were Chinese, accounting for 54.4% of revenues in the first half. Films that are currently burning up the box office include coming-of-age drama Tiny Times which had taken $67.67M as of Sunday, Johnnie To’s Blind Detective which sold $13.65M in its first weekend and Man Of Steel whose cume was $58.20M as of Sunday according to Ent Group data. Read More »
The Motion Picture Association and the China Film Distributors and Exhibitors Association have released a study that says the film and TV business contributed $15.5B to China’s economy in 2011. Commenting on the report, Mike Ellis, president and managing director of the MPA for Asia Pacific, said, “Chinese audiences are seeking out and enjoying a variety of films, whether they are made locally, internationally or co-produced through collaborative international partnerships.” While box office is predicted to keep building regardless of where films come from, figures released recently by China’s film watchdog confirm what could be a disturbing trend for Hollywood: Local movies are taking a big bite out of ticket sales. The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said last week that homegrown films accounted for 69% of mainland box office revenues in the first quarter of 2013. The shift began with the late 2012 release of comedy Lost In Thailand, which broke about every record possible, went on to become the highest-grossing Chinese title of all time and gave a kickstart to 2013. But despite that movie’s eleventh-hour arrival, local pics still finished 2012 at a four-year low with a market share of only 48%. In the first three months of this year, however, Chinese films made 3.6B yuan ($582M) and six films broke the coveted 100M yuan ($16.2M) barrier. The top film was Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, which earned 1.25B yuan ($202.2M).
‘Journey To The West’ Breaks China Box Office Records In Holiday Bow
Chinese Pics Lose Market Share In 2012, But Local Comedy Is Top Grosser Of All-Time
Last year, four foreign films were responsible for 56% of total sales in the first quarter. But this year, the only Hollywood pictures to punch above 300M yuan ($48.5M) were Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Xinhua news agency reported. They were followed by A Good Day To Die Hard, Cloud Atlas and Resident Evil: Retribution.
Related: U.S. Movie Influx Has “Shaken” Chinese Industry, Official Says
China Outpaces Japan To Become World’s No. 2 Movie Market: MPAA Read More »
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The Stephen Chow-directed action comedy scored RMB 76.85M ($12.3M) on its opening day February 10 during the Chinese New Year holidays, the biggest first day for a local production in history. Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons took in $93.5M during its first week, a record for any film in the territory — local or foreign — and reached $100M in receipts in eight days, also the fastest ever to the mark. The pic was one of the first two films released by the nascent Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, the Greater China film division of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group. VRPA co-produced the pic with Bingo Movie Development, Chinavision Media Group and Edko Films. It also has grossed $3.1M in Hong Kong, ranked No. 2 behind A Good Day To Die Hard; $2.56M in Taiwan; $2.3M in Malaysia and $1.4M in Singapore. The other VRPA title, Say Yes!, a Chinese-language remake of the 1991 Fuji TV drama 101st Marriage Proposal, grossed $7.5M on Valentine’s Day, a record for a romance movie. Valentine’s Day has become the highest-grossing day in China’s annual box office — this year it hit $32.1M, a single-day record. Village Roadshow Pictures Asia says it’s the first foreign co-producer to capture the top two box office spots in China at the same time. Next up for the company is Man Of Tai Chi, directed by and starring Keanu Reeves. Read More »