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China and Hollywood by the Numbers

Consider this: Hollywood studios now make more money selling movie tickets in China than in any other market outside North America. Wanda, China’s largest real estate developer, bought AMC, the second-largest movie theater chain in the United States, and is also investing in making movies of its own. China is building theaters and adding movie screens at a rate not seen in the U.S. in decades, and Chinese audiences are ballooning.

DreamWorks Animation, which made the global blockbuster Kungfu Panda, is now making parts of the third of six planned installments, as well as other films, at its new joint-venture studio in Shanghai.

What does all this mean for Hollywood? A lot. Viewed through one lens, China is Hollywood’s savior: a new frontier, a place to mint fans and money. Viewed through another, it’s Hollywood’s nightmare: a country hostile to free expression where the state tries hard to maintain control of culture and wants to reap its own profits from its legions of filmgoers by keeping Hollywood on the outside looking in.

China, meanwhile, envies Hollywood as much for its cultural empire as for its financial clout.

The two sides need each other, want each other, and yet—despite last year’s landmark film deal a decade in the making—neither side is ready to completely embrace the other. Will the story end with carnage or with the two sides riding off into the sunset together? Too soon to say. In the meantime, here are some numbers to give you a sense of what’s at stake.

* * *

2.8

Billions of U.S.$ gross in movie tickets sold in China in 2012

10.8

Billions of U.S.$ gross in movie tickets sold in the U.S. in 2012

2.7

Billions of U.S.$ gross in movie tickets sold at China’s box office in first nine months of 2013

35

Percentage points rise in gross value of movie tickets sold in China in the first nine months of 2013, up from the same period in 2012

1.6

Billions of U.S.$ grossed by Chinese-language films at China’s box office from January 1 to September 30, 2013

58.2

Market share of Chinese-language films at the box office from January through September 2013

93.8

Percentage points rise in box office sales grossed by Chinese-language films over the first nine months of 2012

1.1

Billions of U.S.$ grossed by films imported into China from January 1 to September 30, 2013

41.9

Market share of imported films in the first nine months of 2013

5.2

Percentage points decline in box office gross sales of tickets to imported movies in the first nine months of 2013

1.39

Billions of RMB (182 million U.S.$) grossed by Avatar in China in 2009, making director James Cameron’s sci-fi film the all-time No. 1 movie in China (Source: Film Business Asia)

1.26

Billions of RMB (197 million U.S.$) grossed by Lost in Thailand in China in late 2012 and early 2013, making director Xu Zheng’s comedy the biggest Chinese-language hit of all time (Source: Box Office Mojo)

280

Millions U.S.$ spent to produce Avatar (Source: Los Angeles Times)

4.8

Millions U.S.$ spent to produce Lost in Thailand (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

750

Millions of U.S.$ grossed by Avatar in North America (Source: Box Office Mojo)

57

Thousands of U.S.$ Lost in Thailand grossed in the United States in February 2013 (Source: Box Office Mojo)

54

Millions of U.S.$ grossed by Hero in the United States in 2004—making director Zhang Yimou’s film the all-time No. 1 Chinese-language movie released in the U.S. (Source: Box Office Mojo)

77

Thousands of U.S.$ grossed by director Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin in the United States in autumn 2013 (Source: Box Office Mojo)

0

Sales of tickets for Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin in China, where the film has yet to gain censors’ approval for theatrical release

5

Number of years in a row (2007-2012) China’s box office gross jumped an annual compound rate of more than 47% (Source: Variety)

2

Number of films from mainland China nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award (Source: AMPAS)

2

Number of films from Hong Kong nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award (Source: AMPAS)

3

Number of films from Taiwan nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award (Source: AMPAS)

1

Number of Chinese-language films to win the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, from Taiwan, by director Ang Lee in 2000 (Source: AMPAS)

2018

Year when China’s box office will surpass that of the U.S., predicts IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond (Source: Forbes)

2025

Year when China’s box office will double that of the U.S., Gelfond says (Source: Forbes)

39,662

Number of movie screens in the United States (Source: National Association of Theater Owners)

7,914

Number of Americans per movie screen in the United States

13,118

Number of movie screens in China

103,923

Number of Chinese per movie screen in China

5

Estimated U.S.$ billions of “value potential” (estimated box office gross plus possible ancillary revenue) in China by 2017 (Source: Variety)

34

Number of imported films China permits its theaters to screen each year, for which gross ticket sales are divided between the foreign copyright holder and the Chinese distributors

20

Number of imported revenue-sharing films allowed on China’s silver screens before the U.S.-China Film Deal signed February 2012

25

Percent of the box office take grossed by an imported film shown in China that can flow back to its copyright holder abroad

13

Rough percentage studios outside China got from their theatrical releases inside China before Spring 2012

10

Years it took for U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators to reach an agreement over terms of U.S.-China film deal in 2012

2.6

Billion U.S.$ spent by real estate giant Dalian Wanda to acquire AMC Entertainment Holdings, the No. 2 U.S. cinema chain

1

Rank of Wanda among world’s largest cinema chains

4

Number of partners in Oriental DreamWorks: one American (DreamWorks Animation) and three Chinese (China Media Capital, Shanghai Media Group, and Shanghai Alliance Investment)

350

Millions of U.S.$ valuation of Oriental DreamWorks’ cash and intellectual capital assets (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

3

Billion U.S.$ Oriental DreamWorks has slated for a cultural and entertainment district in Shanghai

6

Number of installments of the Kung Fu Panda series

4

Number of installments of the Kung Fu Panda film franchise that Oriental DreamWorks plans to make in China

Except where noted, the data for this article comes from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT). It was compiled by Artisan Gateway and edited by Jonathan Landreth.

Topics: 
Jonathan Landreth reported freelance from Beijing from 2004 to 2012 for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The China Economic Quarterly, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science...

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