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China's Box Office Hits 50-bln-yuan Milestone, Returns to Pre-Pandemic Level

By Xinhua|Nov 14,2023

Audiences watch film posters at a cinema in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, July 30, 2023. (Photo/Xinhua)

Beijing - The Chinese film market on Monday hit the 50-billion-yuan (7 billion U.S. dollars) mark in 2023 box office revenue, signaling a recovery from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impressive feat, accomplished in 317 days, saw domestic productions generate 83.4 percent of the total box office earnings, according to China Movie Database.

In 2017, the annual total box office earnings in China reached 55.91 billion yuan, breaking the 50 billion yuan mark for the first time.

Riding on the wave of booming growth in the Chinese film market, both 2018 and 2019 witnessed the 50 billion yuan threshold being crossed in 277 and 276 days, respectively.

However, the subsequent years were marred by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, plunging the Chinese film market into a challenging period with cinema closures and fewer screened titles. In 2022, the annual box office stood at around 30 billion yuan.

Following the downgrading of COVID-19 measures in China at the beginning of January this year, the Chinese film market got off to a good start, buoyed by a lucrative Spring Festival moviegoing season.

On Jan. 31 this year, box office revenue across the country surpassed 10 billion yuan, the fastest ascent to this milestone in the history of the Chinese film market.

With several highly anticipated domestic and international releases still to come, industry observers estimate that the box office for 2023 could approach 55 billion yuan, nearing the 2017 level.

As of Oct. 17, the estimated number of cinemagoers nationwide in 2023 was around 470 million people, data from a recently released industry report showed. By year-end, this figure is expected to surpass the 2019 total of 530 million.

Delighted to see the progress scored in China's film market after three years of pandemic, Xie Shiming, an industry observer, said it inspired optimism for a full recovery and signaled the potential for new achievements in the future of the film market.

Despite being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese film industry has demonstrated great vitality and potential with a myriad of domestic blockbusters of varied themes and high-quality content.

As data from China Movie Database showed, 55 films released in 2023 have exceeded 100 million yuan in box office revenue, with 37 being domestic productions.

Fu Ruoqing, chairman of China Film Co., Ltd., attributed the success of domestic productions to stronger cultural confidence and the growing professional capabilities of Chinese filmmakers.

Now, what Chinese audiences yearn for are stories that reflect the lives and events in their surroundings, Fu said, adding that enhanced filmmaking techniques and creativity demonstrated in domestic productions have significantly strengthened the appeal of Chinese films.

In the meantime, the allure of Chinese blockbusters goes beyond the territory. "The Wandering Earth II" has been released in 39 countries and regions, earning over 100 million yuan in overseas box office revenue. The espionage thriller "Hidden Blade" and the comedy-drama "One and Only" have consecutively shattered box office records for Chinese-language films in Thailand.

According to Jiang Yanming, a veteran film producer and president of China Lion Film Distribution Inc., overseas distribution for domestic films has faced great difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years.

Industry insiders are expecting that the situation will gradually improve as the film market regains strength, and hope to export more Chinese titles to overseas markets. 


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