China Outlines 14th Five-Year Plan For Movies; Whither Hollywood? & Does That Market Still Matter?

'The Battle at Lake Changjin' Bona

Outlining its 14th “Five-Year Plan” for the development of Chinese films, the China Film Administration has said it plans to increase the number of movie screens in the country to 100,000 by 2025. Good news, and along with that, the regulator will be promoting 10 domestic tentpoles each year. This is not far off from an earlier, pre-pandemic five-year goal but came to light this past week as China held the sixth plenary session of the 19th Communist Party of the China Central Committee.

In 2020, China became the world’s biggest box office market, overtaking North America. This largely was due to an earlier pandemic reopening of cinemas and the performance of local titles. As of this past week, China has passed RMB 43B ($6.7B) in box office, led by propaganda title The Battle at Lake Changjin (RMB 5.65B//$884M)).

Per local media, China intends to be “a strong film power” by 2035. The country already is an important market and has been for Hollywood in the recent past (to reiterate: the split is only 25% to the studios, which can be significant depending on the local promo spend). However, phe last year has seen the PRC take a pass on potential hits from Hollywood — notably Marvel movies, which traditionally have been catnip to local audiences.

And, confoundingly, it has accepted movies that were already greatly available elsewhere. Just this past weekend, Disney’s Jungle Cruise was treated to a dismal $3.4M — in a market where Dwayne Johnson is a draw. But given the lead time, piracy was a factor.

Meanwhile, where is Venom: Let There Be Carnage? The 2018 first movie was a massive hit in China at $269M+.

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