China's film box office surpassing US, other markets that are hit by COVID-19
Published: Dec 14, 2020 06:28 PM

Movie-goers enjoy themselves at a cinema in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province, on Thursday. The Chinese mainland box office totaled 3.69 billion yuan ($544.33 million) during the first seven days of the National Day holiday period, the second highest grossing amount in history for the same period, data showed. Photo: cnsphoto

The Chinese film market has become the world's biggest after smashing global box office record within four months of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, as other major markets in North America and elsewhere continue to grapple with the pandemic. 

Since July when cinemas were allowed to reopen after months of being shut down due to the deadly virus, Chinese box office reached a record high of 15 billion yuan ($2.29 billion) in November, making China the world's biggest film market for the first time, China Media Group reported on Monday. 

Box offices have continued to surge following the record high, as more domestically-made movies hit the cinemas attracting huge moviegoers. On November 14, China's 2020 box office revenue reached another milestone of 16 billion yuan, lifted by mainly by domestic films such as the war epic The Eight Hundred and the comedy anthology My People, My Homeland, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Analysts expect that full-year box office revenue could reach as high as 20 billion yuan, as a total of 57 films are scheduled to be launched for December and as no strict restrictions imposed for cinemas despite a few of new COVID-19 cases erupting in some pockets of the country.

"The main factor behind Chinese film market surpassing the US movie market and becoming the largest in the world is effective virus control," Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in East China's Shanghai Municipality, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that many cinemas were reopened as early as July, while the US' market withered.

While the US and many other countries were facing raging COVID-19 crisis in July, Chinese authorities rolled out plans to reopen cinemas, giving the domestic market a great head start. Many US cinemas continue to be shut as the country grapples with severe resurgence of the virus.

"Judging from the current situation of the epidemic in the US, it may be difficult for US theaters to return to a relatively normal level in 2021…the Chinese film market may still be the world's largest in 2021," Xiao said, adding that without "black swan event" such as the pandemic, it would be very difficult for China to surpass the US.

Apart from China's ability to rein in the epidemic more effectively, the release of several domestically-made films also contributed hugely to the record-breaking box offices, according to experts and media reports.

As of November 24, all top four earners were Chinese films - The Eight Hundred, My People, My Homeland, Legend of Deification and The Sacrifice, which contributed half of the total box offices, according to Xinhua. 

"Domestic major films like The Eight Hundred reignited the audience's enthusiasm for watching movies, creating a peak during the National Day holiday," Xiao said.

Global Times