On Screen China: May 2016 Box Office Recap, Sales Slip Year-on-Year

  • May’s total box office was down 1.5% from May 2015 and represents the second consecutive month of slowing growth in the industry.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse opens on Friday and will try to kickstart the market.
  • Despite rocky road, the X-Men franchise has enjoyed success in China, but the impending release of Warcraft may spell a weaker run than 2014’s Days of Future Past.
Chinese fans await arrival of X-Men stars at a fan meetup (Weibo)

Chinese fans await arrival of X-Men stars at a fan meetup (Weibo)

May 2016 Recap

Total ticket sales at the Chinese box office reached RMB 3.135 billion ($476 million) in May according to data complied by 1905.com, the official website of state-run China Movie Channel.

The monthly haul was down 1.5% from May 2015 and represents the second consecutive month that the box office has seen slowing growth.

Gross revenue in May was made primarily by imported films, with Hollywood movies accounting for 72% of all ticket sales, bolstered by the performance of Disney’s Captain America: Civil War. Year-to-date, domestic Chinese films still hold the edge overall, accounting for 62% of the total box office, but June should balance things out for Hollywood as tentpole releases such as X-Men: Apocalypse, Warcraft, Finding Dory 2, and Independence Day: Resurrection dominate multiplexes throughout the month.

Top Ten Films — May 2016 Gross in RMB

Captain America: Civil War (美国队长3)1.228B
Book of Love (北京遇上西雅图之不二情书)544M
The Angry Birds Movie (愤怒的小鸟)362M
Alice Through The Looking Glass (爱丽丝梦游仙境2:镜中奇遇记)213M
The Jungle Book (奇幻森林)193M
The Divergent Series: Allegiant (分歧者3)113M
Criminal (超脑48小时)968K
Song of the Phoenix (百鸟朝凤)801K
Phantom of the Theater (魔宫魅影)558K
MBA Partners (梦想合伙人)447K

As the Chinese box office continues to inch closer to overtaking North America as the world’s highest-grossing film market, CFI will start tracking monthly box office comparisons between the two territories. North American data comes from our syndication partners at BoxOffice.com and Chinese data is provided by Artisan Gateway.

2016 USD Box Office Comparison – North America vs. China

MonthNorth AmericaChina

On Screen This Week – X-Men: Apocalypse

After chilly receptions the past two weekends for Sony’s The Angry Birds Movie and Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass failed to kickstart the market, 20th Century Fox throws in its own challenger with X-Men: Apocalypse. Below, CFI takes a look at the superhero sequel’s box office potential.

X-Men: Apocalypse (X战警:天启)
China Distribution: China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
U.S. Distribution: 20th Century Fox

CFI Score – 7/10

The X-Men films have had a strong foothold in China dating back to 2003 when X2 was released, but the franchise has also run into some bumps along the way. X-Men: First Class failed to secure a release date in 2011 because of a sensitive storyline about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and this past February, Deadpool was deemed too graphic for Chinese audiences.

Perhaps in response to the First Class censorship, 20th Century Fox added Chinese elements and Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing to 2014’s Days of Future Past and was able to secure its first day-and-date release in the country. The film went on to gross RMB 723 million ($116.5 million) becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of the year.

We don’t see Apocalypse reaching those heights for two main reasons. First, despite signing a five-picture deal with Fox, superstar actress Fan is not part of this sequel’s cast and her legion followers will be less likely to make a trip to the theater this time around. Second, with Warcraft releasing in just five days, Apocalypse is caught in an awkward position and can only hold on to premium priced IMAX and 3D screenings for one weekend.