China box office reaches new record

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Asia / Pacific Roundabout

China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) reported that on Nov. 20, 2017, the country for the first time broke the magical box-office threshold of 50 billion yuan ($7.5 bil.), setting a new record. The SAPPRFT report said a total of 1.448 billion tickets had been sold nationwide up until that date, corresponding to an increase of approximately 19 percent year-on-year.

Box-office revenues for domestic movies reached 26.2 billion yuan, or 52.4 percent of the total. The remainder of 23.8 billion yuan, or 47.6 percent of total takings, was pocketed by foreign films. A total of 78 films had each earned 100 million yuan or more, including 39 domestic ones. Among these local offerings was action thriller Wolf Warrior 2, which alone raked in about 5.68 billion yuan and turned out to be this year's fifth-highest-grossing movie worldwide. Second place went to the eighth installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious, which pocketed 2.67 billion yuan, closely followed at third place bydomestic comedy Never Say Die, which earned 2.2 billion yuan.

China, which effectively has become the second-largest movie market worldwide after the United States, has seen its box-office revenues increase steadily over the past 15 years. At the turn of the millennium it accounted for less than one billion yuan; by 2010 it had reached 10 billion; in 2013 it stood at more than 20 billion; and in 2015 it already exceeded 40 billion yuan.

As the Christmas and New Year period will see the release of a slew of high-profile local and foreign movies—including domestic action fantasy Legend of the Demon Cat and the much-awaited Star Wars: The Last Jedi—it is expected that this year's total box-office earnings might reach well over 55 billion yuan by the end of December. Meanwhile, Miao Xiaotian, general manager of China Film Co-Production Corp, was quoted in a report released by China’s official news agency Xinhua with the prediction that China would overtake the United States to become the world's largest film market in about three years.

China to Boast World’s Most Screens by 2020

In a related development, a SAPPRFT official has said that the country is going to have over 60,000 cinema screens by 2020, which would make it the world's largest film exhibition market.“By 2020, China will produce around 800 movies each year and the annual box office will reach 70 billion yuan [$10.6 bil.],” Zhang Hongsen, deputy director of SAPPRFT, told attendants at a symposium in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou on Nov. 26. It’s also possible that China could become the world's new film production hub, as recent developments could provide an incentive for some foreign studios to choose China as a production base. Some foreign films, such as India's sports drama Dangal (2016), have taken in higher box-office takings in China than in their own countries, making China an increasingly attractive market for foreign film producers, Zhang told the symposium participants.

Horror Flick Tops 2017 Indonesian B.O.

A horror film co-produced by Indonesian company Rapi Films and South Korean outfit CJ Entertainment has reportedly turned out to be Indonesia’s top box-office draw this year. After its release on Sept. 28, Pengabdi Setan (Satan’s Slaves) topped the country’s box-office ratings for three consecutive weeks, attracting more than 4.1 million moviegoers nationwide, a statement published by CJ Entertainment said. This would make Pengabdi Setan Indonesia’s most popular film of the year in terms of audience attendance. The company also claimed the movie to be Indonesia’s fourth highest-grossing film of all time.

Pengabdi Setan is a remake of a 1982 domestic horror film of the same title. Directed by Joko Anwar, the movie’s storyline revolves around a haunted house in which a girl and her three brothers live all by themselves after their mother dies of a strange illness. She eventually returns in tow with evil spirits to pick up her children and claim one of the siblings as “the devil’s child.” Pengabdi Setan was nominated in 13 categories at this year’s Festival Film Indonesia (FFI) Citra Awards, of which it won seven, including Cinematography, Art Direction, Best Visual Effects and Best Music. According to CJ Entertainment, the rights to the film have been sold to 45 countries including Japan, Malaysia and Poland.

Korean Animation Exports Rise by 30%

International exports of Korean animation have risen by more than 30 percent to $100 million this year, reportedthe Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA). This remarkable growth materialized despite extremely stiff competition from China, KOCCA said, basing its findings on the buyer response it met at various international content trade shows throughout the year, where KOCCA operated Korean booths in support of approximately 50 Korean animation enterprises. The agency said the presence resulted in more than 300 licensing deals and co-production projects with 50 different countries. Broadcasters made up 42 percent of the deals, while new media platforms including Netflix grabbed 26 percent. Of all deals signed, 31 percent were made with North American countries.

For inquiries and feedback, contact Thomas Schmid at thomas.schmid@filmjournal.com.