Chinese mainland cinemas earn $1.79b in box office within 100 days after reopening
Film industry rebounds in China
Published: Oct 28, 2020 08:18 PM

Moviegoers watch the film The Eight Hundred on August 14 in Shanghai. Photo: cnsphoto

Chinese mainland cinemas have made big strides over the past 100 days since the reopening, with attendance rates doubling, box office earnings surpassing North America and championing the largest box office market in the world for the first time, as the film industry gets a boost from China's fast economic recovery and solid containment of the coronavirus.

Data from the Chinese online ticketing platform Dengta showed that China's cumulative box office revenue reached 12.02 billion yuan ($1.79 billion) as of Tuesday since cinemas in the Chinese mainland reopened on July 20, after being closed for six months to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

Industry observers give credit to successful containment of the coronavirus within the country as well as high-quality blockbusters made by domestic producers, suggesting that global film makers pay more attention to the Chinese film market in the post-coronavirus era. 

Overwhelming Enthusiasm

"I have felt an overwhelming enthusiasm of moviegoers over the past 100 days. More and more films have been released as scheduled," Luo Jiajie, manager at the Tianshan Cinema in Shanghai told the Global Times. 

Luo's cinema is still implementing strict epidemic prevention measures after each screening as it did at the beginning of the reopening, and the number of films in their cinema has already recovered to 80 percent of the level it was before the epidemic.

"In the future, I hope more blockbusters will be released that will bring crowds of viewers into the cinema," Luo said.

The past 100 days witnessed the single-day box office growth from merely 4.2 million yuan on the first day cinemas reopened to a maximum of 740 million yuan.

Data released by the ticketing platform Maoyan shows that the box office revenue of Chinese mainland during October 1-8 has reached 3.95 billion yuan, which ranks it second for the holiday in the Chinese film history.

Wanda Group told Global Times that during the past National Day holidays, Wanda cinemas across the country had generated the box office revenue of 540 million yuan, fully recovering to the equivalent level of the same period last year and accounting for 14.9 percent of the total national box office.


Shifting Focus to Chinese Market

Different from moviegoers who had concerns in July, the past National Day holidays showed the world that Chinese people felt safe to travel and entertain themselves within the country. 

Ni Qianqian, a Shanghai-based resident, told Global Times that her concern of infection risks at film theaters has disappeared as the epidemic has been brought under control in China.

"The sanitation and disinfection work conducted in the theaters made me feel very safe. Every time I entered a movie theater, I needed to have my body temperature checked and show my digital health kit code. Meanwhile, there are many blockbusters on the screen that have attracted me a lot," Ni said.

As a result, the attendance rate in movie theaters has doubled, jumping up from the 6.4 percent in July to 14.1 percent in October, which is also close to last year's level of 16.9 percent.  

The first and foremost reason for the quick rebound of Chinese film industry is directly tied to China's successful prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has laid a solid foundation for reopening of the cinema industry, Shi Wenxue, film critic and teacher of Beijing Film Academy told Global Times on Wednesday.

With the containment of COVID-19, China gradually lifted the cinema capacity from 30 percent in July to 75 percent in September under its COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.

The collective effort made by Chinese filmmakers with the release of high-quality domestic movies is another driver, he added.

According to incomplete statistics, a total of 194 films have been released over the past 100 days, of which The Eight Hundred, My People, My Homeland and Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification ranked the top three films in the box office, contributing to over 60 percent of the total box office revenue.

The booming Chinese film market is also expected to inject new impetus and confidence into the global film industry, analysts said.

"The rapid recovery of the Chinese film market will not only bring confidence to the international film market, but also encourage some blockbusters to change their global distribution strategy to focus more on the Chinese market," Shi said.

As of September 15, China's box office hit 12.95 billion yuan, putting the nation ahead of North America's $1.92 billion as the world's largest movie market, according to Dengta real-time data.

The North American film market has struggled due to its governments' failure in the prevention and control of the pandemic. Due to the fallout of coronavirus-related decisions in the film and TV businesses, Hollywood could be hit with a $20 billion loss this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.