China Box Office Seen Surpassing U.S. Next Year Despite Slump

  • That would make China the world’s biggest movie market
  • Still, Chinese ticket sales have been slumping recently

China's Box Office Seen Overtaking U.S. Next year

China is expected to overtake the U.S. next year as the world’s biggest box office after the Asian market recovers from its first quarterly drop in five years.

Chinese ticket sales are poised to increase 22 percent to $10.4 billion next year, according to average projections at IHS Markit Ltd. and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. That would edge above the $10.2 billion average forecast for the U.S. market.

Still, China’s box office has been in a slump recently. June was the only time in the past four months to post growth, thanks to the popularity of "Warcraft" -- the science fiction film backed by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin. Second-quarter sales shrank 5 percent from a year earlier, when "Furious 7" was breaking records, according to data compiled by China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association and Beijing-based researcher EntGroup Inc. Sales dropped again in July, falling 18 percent.

Ticket sales in the country are still up 13 percent during the first seven months of the year after the success of movies such as the romantic comedy "The Mermaid" drove up first-quarter revenue to a record. With movies such as the latest installments of the "Jason Bourne" and "Star Trek" franchises hitting Chinese theaters later this year, the average forecast calls for the box office to climb 22 percent to $8.6 billion this year.

Such growth is good news for companies such as China Film Co., the nation’s largest distributor of movies, which has climbed by its daily limit each day since the stock began trading earlier this month.

— With assistance by Jeanne Yang, and Lee Miller

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