China fuels record global box-office revenue in 2014

March 13 00:38 2015

A surge of ticket sales in China sent Hollywood’s box office to a new high last year, even though theater revenue at home slumped. Global box-office revenue climbed to $36.4 billion, according to an annual report Wednesday from the Motion Picture Assn. of America. And much of the growth came from one country: China.635482754584155745-AP-CHINA-ECONOMY-38964549

The world’s most populous nation saw its box-office revenue jump 34% to a staggering $4.8 billion last year, making it the first foreign market to cross the $4-billion threshold. That growth was fueled largely by Hollywood action, fantasy and sci-fi films such as “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the top-grossing film ever in mainland China, as well as “Interstellar” and “Need for Speed.” Some Hollywood movies did more business in China than they did in North America.

The figures attest to China’s rising importance to major studios, which compete heavily to secure coveted releases for their movies in a market that is rapidly catching up to the U.S. Chinese developers such as Dalian Wanda Group, owner of U.S. theater chain AMC Entertainment, have been building theaters at a breakneck pace across China to accommodate a growing middle-class population with more money to spend on entertainment. Chinese Internet giants such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. also are investing in film production.

At the same time, China has been more willing in recent years to let Hollywood grab a larger share of its vast box office by easing its strict quotas on foreign movies. The shifts have transformed China into the largest international market for Hollywood films, surging ahead of longtime markets such as Japan, France, Britain and India, each of which had $2 billion or less in film revenue last year, according to the MPAA.