China Blamed for Slow 2016 Global Box Office Growth

China may be the second-biggest cinema market in the world, but it still ranks behind North America by almost half. 

Photo:: Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

China’s single-digit growth in 2016 pulled down the overall numbers of the global film industry, which despite that slowing still set a record with US$38.6 billion in revenues, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced Wednesday.

The box office in China, which had grown in double-digits since 2003, still set its own record with $6.6 billion in 2016, but grew overall only 3.7 percent. US and Canada took in $11.4 billion, up a mere two percent over 2015. In China, a total of 10 films reached RMB 1 billion or higher

The total number of cinema screens worldwide increased by eight percent in 2016 to nearly 164,000, due in large part to continued double-digit growth across the Asia-Pacific region, including China. China ended the year with the world’s largest number of cinema screens, squeaking past the United States with just over 41,000 by the end of the year.

China’s box office total also reflected 40 foreign films that were imported on a revenue-sharing basis, six more than are officially permitted, the result of a relaxation of import policies that sought to boost cinema earnings. However, of the six additional films, only Mel Gibson’s World War II story Hacksaw Ridge found any real success, earning RMB 373 million ($53.7 million).

“The continued strength of the box office demonstrates that cinema remains the premier way to experience great storytelling for audiences around the world,” former US Senator and Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd of the MPAA said in a statement.