Despite “King Kong: Skull Island” and “Beauty and the Beast” delivering box office success overseas, China still suffered in March. Variety’s Patrick Frater reported on April 3rd, 2017 that China’s box office revenue for March was $488 million (RMB 3.37 billion) which is 9% lower than March of last year. Admissions were also down from last year, with March 2016 bringing in 109 million while March 2017 received 101 million (Frater 2017).
Frater notes one of the reasons is due to online-ticket sales, which since the beginning of the year have been calculated separately from the total box office, making March appear weaker than it was: “Removing those from the calculation… with an adjusted gross figure of RMB3.11 billion ($451 million)” (Frater 2017).
The first quarter of 2017 was calculated to be equal to that of the first quarter of 2016, but again, removing the online-ticket sales creates a drop, with “a year-on-year drop of 6%. In terms of ticket sales, the first quarter of 2017 saw 411 million admissions, down 2% from the 418 million in 2016” (Frater 2017).
Patrick Frater attributes this drop in sales to two main factors. Firstly, in mid-2016, China reduced the subsidies provided to consumers by competing online-ticket sellers (i.e. Fandango), this drove up ticket prices (Frater 2017). Secondly, there was “a weak crop of films, both Hollywood and local, in 2016. In order to keep the turnstiles spinning, Chinese regulators allowed in far more Hollywood films than in previous years” (Frater 2017). Weaknesses for 2017 seem to lie in more domestic territory however, as only films released during Chinese New Year seem to have an impact so far.
While Wanda Cinemas president John Zeng attempted to sound optimistic at CinemaCon, saying “that growth would normalize at 15-20% per year” (Frater 2017), China’s box office appears to be in stagnation; hopefully, what can occur is a miracle with the summer releases to bring the growth back up to make China, and consequently the United States’ studios, a larger profit.
Frater, Patrick. “Weak March Means China Box Office Recovery Is Not Yet in Sight.” Variety. N.p., 03 Apr. 2017. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.