China's movie industry is outpacing any other movie industry. Ever.

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I don’t like the use of ‘ever’ to stress a point beyond breaking, mainly because it it over-used by excitable writers. That does not include Forbes, at least not as I see them. They only go for drama when it is called for, so to declare that China’s movie industry is the fastest growing ever – that’s heavy, man. The actual headline is ‘China’s Movie Industry is Growing Faster Than Any Other Country’s Anywhere, Any Time, Ever‘.

Many readers are already aware of China’s rising prominence in the film world and it is often held that today’s blockbusters focus even more on action to woo that market. Studios are certainly looking towards China to help bring in the profits. They have good reason to:

Every time I think China’s growth must finally slow down, it just accelerates. From 2001 to 2007, annual theatrical revenue in China increased at a 34 percent compound annual rate (as measured in US dollars); from 2008 to 2014 the pace quickened to 40 percent per year. So far in 2015 China’s movie revenue has increased by 52 percent over the same period last year, and there’s no sign of a slowdown.

Given economists’ pronouncements that GDP growth has slowed to about 5 percent in 2015, this means that China’s theatrical movie business is growing 10 times faster than its GDP. North America’s theatrical business, in contrast, has been growing at a snail’s pace, at an annual rate of just 1 percent since 2002.

The article lays out three reasons for the boom: a growing middle class, ongoing construction that is helping create new movie screens, and a ravenous appetite for film among the Chinese.

It goes on to estimate that the Chinese market will pass the box office earnings of the American one – roughly $12 billion – somewhere near 2017.

But US studios will have competition – China is used to seeing films from several countries, including Japan, European markets, South Korea and Hong Kong. It also has its own strong industry – one that makes movies far more cheaply. The most expensive Chinese feature to date will be this year’s The Great Wall, priced at $135 million. That is unusually high: the monumental Red Cliff only cost $80 million and CG-mad The Monkey King $60 million. That is nothing when compared to the $150 million+ blockbuster projects Americans produce.

Last Updated: June 30, 2015

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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