Jul 11, 2016

    China's box office slows down after CNY bonanza


    CHINA'S box office saw a quarterly decline for the first time in more than five years, though industry watchers said it was indicative of a changing market and that growth will likely resume for the rest of the year.

    Second-quarter revenue fell by 4.6 per cent, with ticket sales totalling US$1.51 billion (S$2 billion), down from US$1.58 billion in the same period last year, according to figures from EntGroup.

    The decline follows one of the biggest first quarters at the box office in China, with movies released during the Chinese New Year that raked in nearly US$1 billion - Stephen Chow's The Mermaid, the animated Monkey King 2 and From Vegas To Macao 3.

    In the second quarter of last year, Hollywood flicks like Furious 7, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Jurassic Park performed exceptionally well in China.

    Stanley Rosen, professor and director of the East Asian Studies Centre at the University of Southern California, said industry watchers should "expect to see these blips more frequently as the box office grows even more".

    Films like The Mermaid or Furious 7 can "inflate the box office in a given quarter".

    He said Chinese consumers eventually will be more discriminating about what they watch.

    Marc Ganis, president of Jiaflix which helps United States studios distribute films in China, said another factor is that the government may be stepping in to make sure ticket sales are not inflated.

    Distributor Beijing Max Screen was punished three months ago for fabricating US$8.7 million in ticket sales for Ip Man 3.