China box office to overtake US in 2020; Video streaming giants give US theaters stiff competition

China's domestic box-office revenues are expected to jump to a whopping $15.5 billion in 2020.

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China, the world's fastest growing economy, is likely to add another feather to its cap. Given the robust growth in movie ticket sales in China in recent times, it might in all likelihood overtake the US box office by next year. The US box office has been taking a hit for quite some time now given the growing popularity of video streaming services.

According to a reported released by PwC, China is likely to emerge as the world's largest film market, surpassing the United States, in 2020. The report says that China's domestic box-office revenues are expected to jump to a whopping $15.5 billion in 2020. Last year, China's box office revenues were $9.9 billion.

China's cinema market has been growing at a rapid pace over the last few years. Interestingly, the growth is being driven by Hollywood films. Films produced in the US till a few years back weren't that popular in China. More than 65% of the highest grossing films in China's box office are Hollywood films.

According to data provided by Motion Pictures Association of America, the US box office that also includes Canada together registered $11.9 billion in 2018, while China's box office recorded $9 billion in revenues this year.

Hollywood films grow on China's filmgoers

China's emergence as the second largest cinema market is also a result of the declining appetite of Americans for cinema. Movie ticket sales have been on the decline in the US for the past few years, thanks to online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which have been eating into the market share of movie theaters. Movie ticket sales in the US is likely to be affected further given that other media and entertainment giants like Walt Disney, AT&T and Apple are all focusing on streaming services.

Hollywood films have been making big money but majority of the box-office revenue is generated from the overseas markets and not the domestic market. And China is one of the biggest contributors to this.

This has seen an increasing number of Hollywood production house making films keeping in mind the China market. Also, Chinese companies have started investing in Hollywood films more aggressively lately, although China has been stressing more on popularizing Chinese films to help its domestic industry.

According to Box Office Mojo, China helped in producing only a meager 12 films annually out of the 100 top-grossing films worldwide between 1997 and 2003. However, by 2008, China emerged as one of the top countries funding Hollywood projects that saw the number rise to 41 films annually with tech giants like Alibaba and Bona Film Group aggressively funding major Hollywood blockbusters.

Given this, Hollywood film production companies are more likely to focus on China as an alternate to the sinking US box office.

This article was first published on November 6, 2019
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