Blockbusters dominate domestic film market, report finds

Updated: Dec 21, 2023 By XU FAN CHINA DAILY Print
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Kris Phillips (left) and Jin Chen won the best actor and actress awards presented by Tencent News in Beijing on Dec 14. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Approaching the end of 2023, China's film market has seen a polarized box-office ratio, with more than half of ticket revenues generated by the 10 highest-grossing blockbusters, according to a report released by Tencent News in Beijing on Dec 14.

The report, 2023 Tencent Entertainment White Paper, finds that as of Nov 20, the country earned 50.32 billion yuan ($7.04 billion) in overall box-office revenue, with 26.65 billion yuan, or 53 percent, generated by 10 movies, all produced by Chinese companies.

All 10 of the highest-grossing blockbusters, with six of them earning more than 2 billion yuan each, were released during one of the five most lucrative box-office seasons — namely, the New Year, Spring Festival vacation, May Day, the summer vacation, and National Day.

It indicates that the market remains lackluster during the comparatively smaller holidays and weekends, mainly due to a shortage of big-budget movies to attract a large number of people to cinemas, as analyzed in the report.

So far, China has a total of 76,705 screens in 12,557 cinemas, a slight increase from the 76,150 screens in 12,460 cinemas last year.

However, this indicates that the once blistering speed has slowed down.

As of Oct 30, a total of 385 movies had been released this year, which is, admittedly, more than the number released during the same period last year.

However, it still does not match the number from the same periods in 2018 and 2019.

The report also breaks down age-related preferences. Those younger than 23 mostly fancy comedies, while viewers aged between 24 and 29 prefer realistic tales concerning social issues.

Yu Dong, founder and president of Bona Film Group, says that the Chinese film industry has recovered with significant momentum this year, exemplified by the box-office haul passing 50 billion yuan in just 317 days, the first time to return to the inspiring mark since the pandemic.

However, the domestic movie market is currently undergoing a major transformation in audience preferences, requiring industry insiders to pay more attention to the tastes and habits of younger viewers, says Yu.

He explains that over the past three years, the pandemic has caused many young audiences to shift toward television and online series, resulting in the necessity for filmmakers to produce high-quality movies with human interest and artistic innovation to attract them back to theaters.

The report was released at an event held in Beijing's Shougang Park, which also presented a total of 21 honors to a string of celebrities, with actor Kris Phillips, better known domestically as Fei Xiang, taking home the honorary title of the Film Actor of the Year.

Due to his vivid performance as an aggressive tyrant in the mythological epic Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms, Phillips has recovered his popular appeal among young audiences over the three decades since his debut as a singer on the stage of the Spring Festival Gala in 1987.

From his magnetic voice, speaking Mandarin with a slightly American English accent, to his sculpted and muscular physique, Phillips has topped the trending topics regarding movie actors on China's major social platforms, followed by actors Zhu Yilong and Wang Chuanjun in the second and third positions, respectively, according to the Tencent report.

"I really didn't expect that I could have the opportunity to be part of China's film industry after being a singer so many years later," says Phillips.

Expressing his gratitude to his fans who have followed him for decades, he says he has heard that it was the older audience who took their children to the theaters, influencing the youngsters to develop an interest in the movie.

He says it's very emotional experience for himself and hopes the sequels of Creation of the Gods will continue to draw domestic theatergoers.

The Film Actress of the Year honor went to Jin Chen, for her character of a model in the summer blockbuster No More Bets.

A-lister Huang Xiaoming won the TV Actor of the Year for his two popular dramas, the romantic tale Alliance and espionage series The Infiltrator.

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