Asia Minute: China’s Surprising 2019 Box Office

Jan 10, 2020

The Golden Globes were awarded this week, giving attention to some of the best movies of 2019. A different take on Hollywood’s movie output came from China this week — and it’s a very different interpretation.

Chinese are still going to more movies than they used to, but the pace of growth is slowing with a downgraded role for Hollywood. That’s according to preliminary figures out this week about China’s box office.

Overall, movie ticket sales in China rose nearly 5.5% last year compared to 2018 — to a little more than 9-billion dollars. But analysis from the consultancy Artisan Gateway shows sales from U.S. studio films declined — down nearly 3% — still a little more than 2.5 billion dollars.

The Hollywood Reporter says only two U.S. made movies hit China’s top ten for the year – “Avengers: Endgame” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”

In 2018, five of China’s top ten box office hits were made in Hollywood. Variety quotes an analyst with IDW Media Holdings as calling it “the worst performance for Hollywood in China since 2008.”

Variety also says one factor favoring Chinese-made pictures could be the continuing growth of new movie screens — and where they’re going.

Artisan Gateway says nearly 20,000 new screens opened in China last year – mostly in small towns and rural areas where audiences are more interested in domestically-made content than foreign-produced blockbusters.