The data in the MPAA‘s Theatrical Market Statistics report for 2012 are striking: China accounted for $2.7B in box office sales last year, up from $2.0B in 2011. That vaults the country past Japan at $2.4B, a slight increase from 2011’s $2.3B. “China is building 10 screens a day,” MPAA chief Chris Dodd says. “There’s a voracious appetite for product and our films have done well.” He cited recent agreements that enable Hollywood studios to show 30 films a year in China, up from 14. But he says what’s more important is that “there is no restriction on joint ventures which can allow for greater opportunity for product to get in.” Dodd says he just met with the head of the Wanda Group, a major theater owner there (and here, since its acquisition last year of AMC Entertainment). “He’s trying to fill seats and knows that American product draws a terrific audience in China.”
Some studios were frustrated last year when some of their biggest hits were pitted against each other in China. For example, Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises, Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man, and Fox’ Prometheus opened within a week of each other. “Ironically, they all did very well,” Dodd says, although he acknowledges that he considers the release schedules a problem. He also pointed to “the blackout periods when you can’t get anything into a theater. And we’ve certainly raised our concerns about that at the very highest authorities we have access to.” He calls the relationship “vastly improved” over the last few years “despite these bumps in the road.”
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