China Box Office Revenues Hit $2.7 Billion in 2012, Second Only to North America
Box office revenue reached a staggering $2.7 billion in China in 2012, even more than expected and up 37 percent over 2011.
Supplanting Japan, China is now the largest moviegoing market outside of North America, where the box office generated $10.8 billion in revenue in 2012. The figures were revealed in the Motion Picture Association of America's annual report on theatrical statistics, which was released Thursday.
The sweeping report showed global box office revenue hitting $34.7 billion in 2012, up 6 percent over the previous year due to a growth spurt both internationally -- where revenue reached $23.9 billion -- and in North America. Overseas, all regions except for Europe enjoyed gains.
"It was a great year for movies," MPAA chair-CEO Christopher Dodd said during a press conference.
Dodd and National Association of Theater Owners chairman-CEO John Fithian didn't try to sugarcoat the box office downturn that has plagued the beginning of 2013.
"The diversity of the movie slate in the first quarter of 2013 just wasn't there. There were a lot of R-rated movies that were violent. These movies can sell, but not when that's all you have to offer," Fithian said. "The diversity of movies in 2012 was extraordinarily strong, and it's that kind of slate that drives the kinds of numbers you saw."
Until the MPAA's report came out, Chinese box office revenue for 2012 was estimated to be roughly $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion, which would have put it on par with Japan, if not slightly behind.
According to the MPAA report, revenues in Japan totaled $2.4 billion in 2012, followed by the U.K. ($1.7 billion), France ($1.7 billion), India ($1.4 billion), Germany ($1.3 billion), South Korean ($1.3 billion), Russia ($1.2 billion), Australia ($1.2 billion) and Brazil ($800 million).
Brazil, Russia, India and China -- known as the BRIC countries - are considered hotbeds for moviegoing.
"China is building something like 10 screens a day. There is a voracious appetite for product," Dodd said.
Overall, the international box office in 2012 was up 32 percent over five years ago.
Four films released in 2012 crossed $1 billion in global sales; The Avengers ($1.51 billion), Skyfall ($1.11 billion), The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion) and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($1.01 billion).
In terms of North America, the MPAA report confirmed a notable uptick in the number of adults going to the movies. In the 40-49 age group alone, there were 5.8 million frequent moviegoers, compared to only 3.3 million in 2011.
Hispanics also remained avid moviegoers in 2012, making more trips to the multiplex than any other ethnicity. Fithian said frequent moviegoing grew across all demos, a promising sign.
Domestic ticket sales in 2012 continued to be driven by frequent moviegoers (those who go to the cinema once a month or more). In 2012, frequent moviegoers represented 13 percent of the population and bought 57 percent of all movie tickets sold, a increase of 7 percent over the previous year.
In 2012, 48 percent of all moviegoers in North America saw at least one 3D title.
-The Hollywood Reporter