As the second largest cinema market (by box office, and the largest by number of screens) in the world, China had a good year 2017 with box office reaching RMB 55.9 billion ($8.4 billion), a 22.3% year-on-year growth, according to data from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT). A total of 1.62 billion cinema tickets were sold during the year, up from 1.37 billion in 2016 (growth of 18.2%). The surge in cinema visitors has resulted in a rise in average admissions per head which go beyond 1.0 (1.17) for the first time in the country’s history. In terms of cinema infrastructure, a total of 9,597 new screens were added in 2017, approximately 26 new screens per day, a similar pace with previous years.
This is a remarkable result given to the box office slowdown in 2016 with only 3.6% growth rate. Strong local titles were one of the main drivers in 2017. Five local titles entered the Top 10 list, of which four were in the Top Five. Successfully earning RMB 5.6 billion ($862.7 million) in the summer, local blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2 became the highest hit of all time in China. Other local hits were Never Say Die, Kong Fu Yoga and Journey to the West: Demon Chapter.
Indian title Dangal was another surprise in the Chinese market in 2017. Successfully grossing RMB 1.3 billion ($196.9 million) in China, this film ranked the seventh in the Top 10 list, the best result of non-Hollywood films in this market.
It is also worth noting that a new box office reporting standard was introduced in the beginning of 2017 to include service fees charged by online ticketing agencies, an average of 3 yuan ($0.4) per ticket. In 2017, approximately 85% of cinema tickets were purchased online. If we eliminate this service fee, the box office growth rate was 13.3% instead of 22.3%.