We live in a wholly different landscape from as recent as ten years back. Back then, most of a film’s box office gross came from North America. And why not? Most of the Hollywood fare appealed to the Americas, so why wouldn’t they be the main market? Nowadays, the world has gotten smaller, and with it, Hollywood is able to make a pretty penny overseas. The biggest overseas market that’s really starting to come into its own is China.
According to THR, last year, China spent the equivalent of $6.78 billion on box office tickets, which is a crazy increase of almost 48.7% when compared to 2014. Additionally, according to The Economist, the country is opening more than 20 new theaters a day. This, of course, is no real accident. In recent years, Hollywood studios have been putting forth an extra effort to appeal to the Chinese audience, hiring Chinese actors or even shooting parts of the film in China.
China is capitalizing on this trend, and is offering rebates of up to 40% in rebates to those who work with the entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda, as reported by CNBC earlier this year. This week, the China announced its plans to build a $2 billion studio and theme park in Chonqing, which will likely increase this trend of Hollywood taking advantage of all these tax breaks for bringing their films to the country.
Of course, as is expected, this will likely result in a shift in the storytelling for a number of the films, and Dalian Wanda’s owner stated that they will only cooperate with filmmakers who incorporate “smarter” Chinese tastes into their films. What does this mean for these movies? The Economist says to expect “fewer spin-offs and sequels, but plenty of socialist realism.”
That’d certainly bring an interesting slant to our films, though who knows? Perhaps this will result in a bifercation of cinema in the U.S., with some Hollywood films being made exclusively for Chinese audiences. But with world as small as it is, it almost seems pointless to continue to treat regions separately from one another.
We don’t know what the solution is, but if this isn’t exploited by Hollywood, there is certainly a lot of money to be left on the table. We’ll have to wait and see.