Economic review

U.S. blockbuster sees happy ending in China

2017-04-19 09:36:00 (Beijing Time)         Global Times

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Consumption-driven economy boosting global film market

A new Hollywood film has had huge success in the Chinese market, confirming that China's more consumption- and service-driven economy is boosting Hollywood films' worldwide box office takings in 2017.

So far this year, The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment in Universal's Fast and Furious franchise, is the best-selling movie around the world, thanks in large measure to the Chinese market.

The action thriller, which stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson as street car racers, has powered through to the top of the global box office chart over a three-day opening weekend, taking a record $532.5 million worldwide across 64 countries and regions.

More than one-third of that total came from China, where the film set the highest-ever figure for a three-day opening weekend, according to a report issued on Sunday by Box Office Mojo, a leading U.S. online box-office reporting site under IMDb.com.

The latest installment only took $100.2 million in North America, the world's largest film market, in the opening weekend, significantly less than its predecessor's $147.2 million. Debuting in China last Friday, The Fate of the Furious topped China's box office chart with more than 1.61 billion yuan ($234.09 million) on Tuesday by press time, data monitored by Beijing-based market consultancy EntGroup.cn showed.

Massive potential

China's film market is full of massive potential for Hollywood movies, Hou Tao, vice president of EntGroup, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Last year, the total box office revenue in China reached 45.7 billion yuan, up 3.73 percent from a year earlier, statistics from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television showed.

The Chinese market was the second-largest contributor to the $38.1 billion global box office in 2016, following North America, according to a report released by Beijing-based market research firm CIIN on April 2.

More and more people in third- and fourth-tier cities have started going to the cinema in recent years, as domestic culture and entertainment businesses have made aggressive expansion efforts across the country, experts said.

"And, amid the economic transition, the development of online film ticket booking systems is also fueling the [Chinese film] market," Chen Changye, chief editor with Beijing-based industry information provider Inyou Insight, told the Global Times Tuesday.

As China has been shifting from an export-driven business model toward a more consumption- and service-driven economy, companies like Dalian Wanda Group have started to focus more on services and entertainment. Wanda alone opened more than 100 new cinemas in China last year, according to the company's listed arm's financial report posted on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

By the end of 2016, there were more than 8,000 cinemas around the country, with the number of screens increasing by 30 percent year-on-year to 41,200 screens, said the CIIN report.

"On average, the current number of films a Chinese individual watches per year in the cinema is just one. But the number could grow up to four in the near future, buoyed by China's consumption-driven economy," said Hou.

The latest quarterly economic data showed that the contribution of consumption to Chinese GDP reached 77.2 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Foreign experts have also expressed confidence in the Chinese film market. It is estimated that Chinese box office revenue will reach 50 billion yuan, which may surpass North America in the next two years, Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said during the Sino-Foreign Film Co-Production Forum held in Beijing on Monday.

Dodd pointed out that over 1.4 billion tickets were sold in the Chinese mainland last year, more than the combined 1.32 billion tickets sold in North America.