The day has finally arrived when as China is the world's No.1 film market, surpassing the box office total of the North America for 2020.
As early as Oct. 15, box office tracking and big data platform Lighthouse first reported the 2020 box office total of films screened on the Chinese mainland had reached 12.95 billion yuan ($1.93 billion), surpassing the North American total of $1.92 billion, citing Box Office Mojo's data. This was the first time China has occupied top position.
By Sunday, the gap had widened: Movie ticket sales in China for 2020 climbed to $2 billion, while North America's total was $1.94 billion.
Though Comscore's statistics for the North America market is a little higher as it includes income from drive-in cinemas, with more Chinese-made blockbusters to hit Chinese theaters, the gap between two markets is expected to continue widening by year's end.
While North America is still struggling with raging COVID-19 pandemic, China's effective prevention and control has benefited its film market. It is bouncing back with 75% of usual seating capacity and several phenomenal blockbusters, including Guan Hu's "The Eight Hundred," the current 2020 world champion that has already grossed $463.4 million and counting, and anthology comedy film "My People, My Homeland" that has grossed $366.84 million by Sunday. Even the Chinese animated feature "Legend of Deification" has grossed $228.79 million, surpassing Disney and Pixar's "Onward" to become the biggest animation of the year.
In the coming weeks, there will be more blockbusters appearing: Guan Hu's new war epic "Sacrifice" is also set for release on Oct. 23, Zhang Yimou's "One Second" is set for release on Nov. 27, while Guo Jingming's fantasy epic "The Yin-Yang Master: Dreams of Eternity" which hits Chinese screens on Dec. 25
In comparison, Hollywood's major studios have postponed almost all of their biggest tentpole releases, such as Marvel's "Black Widow" and the latest James Bond film "No Time to Die”, until next year. AMC Theatres, North America's largest cinema chain, could run out of cash by the end of this year, while Regal Cinemas, the second largest owned by Cineworld, is considering closure of all its U.S. cinemas.
The revival of Chinese film market has given hope to the world. Peter Dinges, CEO of the German Federal Film Board (FFA), said at the 7th Silk Road International Film Festival held last week in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi province, that, "China has set a good example for us. This shows that as long as there are good movies released, people are willing to return to the cinema. As of the end of August, China is the first market to achieve a box office recovery, with more than 90% of theaters reopening."
He added that in this COVID-19 war without gunpowder smoke, every country is making efforts to deal with it. "Film industry is a globalized industry, and ultimately the problems have to be resolved in a globalized way."