For the second year in a row, China ended 2021 as the world’s largest theatrical film market.
Total movie ticket sales in the country hit $7.3 billion (47.3 billion yuan, assuming an average annual exchange rate of 6.45 yuan to $1), more than double the total. revenue last year and is down just 26% from its pre-pandemic peak of $9.2 billion (64.3 billion yuan) in 2019, according to data from regional box office tracking company Artisan Gateway.
Meanwhile, ticket sales at the domestic North American box office, where the industry has faced much more severe disruption and pandemic effects throughout the year, are estimated to remain unchanged. remained nearly 60% compared to 2019 at $4.5 billion.
Worse still for American industry, Hollywood’s foothold in China’s huge and rapidly recovering market has continued to erode over the past year. American films accounted for just 12% of China’s total box office, or $899 million (5.8 billion yuan), down from 30% in 2019 and grossed $2.8 billion (19.4 billion dollars). billion yuan).
During the Chinese box office boom of the late 2000s and 2010s, Hollywood studios saw their revenue grow in China year on year, while they captured a high annual market share of 30 years or more. % to 50%.
Analysts say that the most important issue for Hollywood in China in 2021 is the scarcity of productions showing in local theaters. Only 20 revenue-sharing American titles were released in Chinese theaters last year, compared with 31 in US theaters in 2019 (during China’s peak pandemic year 2020, there were still 17 films released in studio).
Hollywood’s own pandemic-related release delays were a major setback for studios in the first half of this year, but by the summer their distribution pipelines were back up and running. At the time, however, local politics around the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China dictated that Beijing regulators would leave American products on the shelves in favor of Chinese-themed fare. patriotic theme. Rising nationalism and political sensitivities among the local public, encouraged by strained diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington, subsequently derailed the release prospects of some films. Hollywood is viable at the end of the year. Casualties include Disney’s Marvel tentacles Black Widow, the eternal and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; Warner Bros. Space jam; and from Sony Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: There’s no way home – all fan-favorite properties that can generally make hundreds of millions.
Meanwhile, China’s domestic industry continues to recover significantly after COVID (or mid-COVID, depending on how 2022 plays out…). Some 472 Chinese films were released in 2021, exceeding the 428 the country had released in 2019 before the pandemic. And the total sales of Chinese films reached 39.9 billion yuan ($6.19 billion), just short of 2019’s 41.2 billion yuan (about $6 billion at the exchange rate at the time). that point).
Eight of the ten best films of the year in China are local films, led by record-makers Battle at Changjin Lake ($899 million), Hi Mom ($822 million) and Detective Chinatown 3 ($686 million). The people who make the most money in Hollywood are Universal F9: The Fast Saga ($216.9 million), Legendary and Warner Bros. Godzilla Vs. Kong ($188.7) and by Disney Free boy ($94.8 million).
Many of China’s biggest hits of the year, such as top titles, Korean war epics Battle of Lake Chongjin, are films with “main tune” – propaganda stories celebrating the glory of China and its leaders – released on the occasion of the CCP’s 100th anniversary.
Rance Pow, president of Artisan Gateway, said: “The success of films with a ‘main tone’ has created a good cyclical effect for local films. Pow sees three factors driving the commercial rise of Chinese cinema over the past year: “The growing awareness of Chinese audiences and pride in the country’s success and standing in the context of Chinese cinema. global scene, home movies catering to local tastes and increasingly complex film production, marketing and distribution ecosystems supported and overseen by central governments. ”
The industry also benefited from a year-over-year increase in ticket prices – the average ticket price increased to 40.5 yuan ($6.37) in 2021, an 8.7% increase from the 2019 average of 37. .1 yuan – despite the fact that total cinema admissions are still down 29.4% from the 2019 Peak of 1.7 billion.
New cinemas also continue to be built at breakneck speed throughout the year. The country added nearly 6,700 new theaters, for a total of 82,248 screens nationwide, with most of the new construction taking place in rural areas, where Chinese-language films thrive most.