Some estimates earlier this year put 2014’s projected box office in China at about 28B yuan, or around $4.49B. New takings cited by Wang Fenglin, VP of the Chinese Film Producer’s Association, are eyed at 30B yuan or $4.9B. That’s hardly anything to sneeze at, but would fall short of some other government projections which have previously pinpointed 30.7B yuan or $5B, a figure thought to be coveted by the powers that be in China where the film business is highly regulated. Still, according to official state news agency Xinhua, Wang told a gathering on Sunday that China is on track to overtake the U.S. to become the largest film market in the world within three years. Screens and revenue are growing at a rate of 30% annually.
In the first nine months of the year, local movies had 51.4% of the market, even though Transformers: Age Of Extinction is the No. 1 movie of the year with an official $301M. The Top 10 at the 2014 box office is still split between China and Hollywood with five titles each. They include homegrown fare Breakup Buddies and The Monkey King, and imports X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
After an October that was packed with Hollywood films, Chinese titles will begin to flood the box office over the remainder of the year. However, big ticket U.S. movies like Interstellar, Penguins Of Madagascar and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I are still to release. Interstellar goes out on November 12, the day after the Singles’ Day holiday that celebrates the unhitched. Local romantic comedy For Love Or Money starring K-Pop sensation Rain in his first Chinese feature will play through the 11th which has also been described as the world’s biggest online shopping holiday. It’s expected that Interstellar and Penguins will pack theaters given the brand-name status of Christopher Nolan and DreamWorks Animation, and the added attraction of IMAX and 3D shows, respectively. But how long they will play to substantial screen counts is unclear. Mockingjay then bows November 21, although last year’s Catching Fire had the same release date and took in about $28M, a relatively low number for the Middle Kingdom and a global franchise.
In December, three major Chinese movies will enter the market: John Woo’s Titanic-esque The Crossing on December 2; Let The Bullets Fly sequel Gone With The Bullets on December 18; and Christmas Eve release The Taking Of Tiger Mountain from Tsui Hark. Each is in 3D and each is expected to add millions to the final tally for 2014.