Box Office Revenue In China: How It Works

The average cost of a movie ticket in China currently approximates RMB 35 ($5.10), from which

  • RMB 3.3 ($0.48) is paid as a Value Added Tax (VAT)*
  • RMB 5 ($0.73) is apportioned to the National Special Funds for the Development of Film.

From the remaining RMB 26.7 ($3.89)

  • RMB 11.48 ($1.67), or 43% gets divided by the production/distribution companies, with the particular split determined according to their own agreement.
  • RMB 13.35 ($1.94), or 50% is kept by the individual cinema operator
  • RMB 1.87 ($0.27), or 7% will be passed on to the theater’s cinema circuit.

*In 2016, an incentive was added, stipulating that theaters which derive two-thirds of their annual revenue from domestic films only have to pay RMB 2.5 ($0.36) as Special Funds.

According to published reports, operating costs of a Chinese cinema are reckoned at roughly 10% for rent, 10% for labor costs, 7-8% energy costs, and 2-3% for marketing.  Consequently, the net income from the purchase of an average RMB 35 ticket will be roughly RMB 9.34 ($1.36).

This model applies to domestic Chinese productions.  Hollywood imports and Co-Productions are accorded their split (25% and 40%, respectively) from the full revenue, with the distributor and theaters subsequently dividing 91.7% of what’s left over.