A Year of Relief for Filmmakers, Theaters — Will It Last?

Industry insiders reflect on the year that was for Chinese films and movie theaters.

Film enthusiast Li Bingqian went to the movie theaters around 10 times last year. In the first year after movie theaters reopened to the public, many people were excited to return to in-person entertainment, she tells Sixth Tone.

Li was one of an estimated 503 million moviegoers in China in 2023, according to film market database Beacon. They contributed to 54.9 billion yuan ($7.72 billion) in box office sales in the world’s second largest film market in 2023, up 82.6% from 2022 and around 85% of that in 2019, the China Film Administration announced Monday.

The recovery came on the back of several measures introduced by authorities to support the industry after a tough few years, including tax breaks for movie theaters nationwide and relaxation of screening arrangements to allow more films to be released in specific areas of the country.

Li, 25, still falls in the bulk of China’s moviegoers, but there are signs of change. According to Beacon, those aged below 29 years old accounted for 52.2% of moviegoers as of Oct. 17, but the proportion aged above 35 has increased from 20.4% in 2019 to 29% in 2023.

Going to the movie theater is once again a popular choice. Seventy-seven films were released in the festive hesui period in the run-up to the New Year from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31 — the most since 2020. These included “Endless Journey,” which tells the story of a vigilante detective who hunts down criminals, and became the second highest performing film in the world in the weekend after its release on Dec. 15.

These domestic films have largely driven the recovery of China’s film industry, while imported films have struggled. Industry insiders tell Sixth Tone that Chinese audience tastes are changing, favoring domestic films’ more effective promotional methods and plots. Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone