China’s rapidly growing film market will surpass that of the US by 2020, says the country’s media regulator.
According to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s box office sales are set to reach RMB 55 billion ($8.36 billion) in 2017 alone.
The country has already surpassed North America with more than 44,000 movie screens including more than 38,300 3D screens as of March 2017, the media regulator said.
The bullish assessment follows the end of a summer ‘blackout’ period in China when the country imposed an annual ban on the release of all foreign films to turn the spotlight on domestic players.
Local production ‘Wolf Warriors II’ made good use of the blackout period becoming the highest-grossing film of all time in China within 12 days of its release. The film has so far grossed a record RMB 5.4 billion ($820 million) in box office earnings since its debut on July 27.
The success of the locally made film was a shot in the arm for the Chinese film industry at a time when its box office was expanding at a languid pace.
Meanwhile, foreign films continue to play at a disadvantage with Beijing continuing to impose a quota of 34 foreign films that are allowed into the country on a revenue-sharing basis each year.
Whether China’s box office figures can be trusted is another matter altogether and one which no doubt played into the Motion Picture Association of America’s decision in June to hire an accounting firm to audit China’s box office for the first time.
China is expected to expand its quota on foreign film imports and allow Hollywood a greater share of box-office revenue after Chinese and US officials renegotiate trade terms last agreed to in 2012.