Chinese film industry profits need long-term box office support
Published: Feb 19, 2021 08:07 PM

Moviegoers at a cinema in Beijing on Friday, the frst day of Year of the Ox. Photo: CFP

 The film market in the just concluded Spring Festival holidays broke box office records, which achieved nearly 40 percent of last year's box office in one week, signaling a recovery after being deeply affected by the epidemic.

China’s stay put measures have sparked attendance at cinemas, which was good news to film producers. But industry watchers took a cautions attitude, explaining the soaring revenue depends on long-term box office support. 

The film industry registered a record high of 7.8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in the seven-day holidays, an increase of more than 32 percent over 2019, the year before the virus, data from the China Film Administration showed, and the data also includes a record for single-day box office for one single-market in the world. The holidays also set a new record with 160 million moviegoers.

Several Chinese filmmakers announced their 2020 financial results, with heavy losses across the board after being hit badly by the pandemic. One of the leading filmmakers, Wanda Cinema Line, which owns more than 600 cinemas in China, posted the largest loss of nearly 7 billion yuan.

China Film Company posted a loss for the first time since its debut on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2016, ranging from 465 to 675 million yuan, according to the company's statement.

The surge in box office receipts encouraged film producers. China Film said on Thursday as long as cinemas no longer close for a long time, all business lines of Chinese films can guarantee stable operation and growth. 

UBS on Wednesday issued a report, stating that the strong box office performance during the Spring Festival indicates a solid demand for the Chinese film industry, and also shows a positive attitude toward the leading firms’ performance. 

Film-related stocks climbed on Wednesday at the Hong Kong stock market. Alibaba Pictures Group, the film affiliate of the Alibaba Group, on Tuesday saw its stock price at the Hong Kong stock exchange rise more than 34 percent.

The outstanding performance of the Spring Festival holidays gave the film industry hope to return to the level of 2018 and 2019, Chen Changye, a state-owned film firm’s manager, told the Global Times on Friday. But he said it is hard to predict a whole year’s profits.

He explained that the boom was the result of the stay put policy, but if there are more ways to kill time, it is hard to see an upward trend in a long term, except for week-long holidays. 

Wanda Cinema Line also took a cautious attitude, saying that this year's box office will definitely be better than last year’s. But the robust performance during the Chinese New Year is special, and it takes time to see whether the overall performance in 2021 will return to 2018 and 2019 levels.

Global Times