Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Will China Be The Cinema Eldorado of The World?

With 2 billion euros in box office revenue in 2012, the Chinese film market rose to become the second largest in the world, though still far behind the U.S. one (8.1 billion euros). With growth over 30%, is China becoming a promising market?

In ten years, the number of screens has been multiplied by 10

Primarily due to an increase in supply. Construction of cinema halls and screen installations are flourishing in Chinese cities. In 2002, there were less than 1300 film screens. In 2012, there were a total of 13,100. If this trend has slowed down in large cities, it has continued unabated in medium-sized ones. The number of screens in relation to the population is still low (one screen for every 100,000 people in China against one for every 12,000 in France), so there is a substantial room for growth, especially now that watching movies has become there a popular pastime. The potential number of viewers among the middle class is estimated at 200 million, and they are increasingly going out to movies on weekends or holidays, which was not the case just few years ago.

745 films produced in 2012 

100 films in 2002 and 500 in 2010. On the one hand 745 films are produced, wich equaled roughly 2 movies per day at year, making of China one of the most important producers worldwide (India more than 1000, Nigéria 900-video only- the USA 700, … France 279, i.e.:Unesco). On the other hand, film production still struggling, its development has been hampered by different factors such as: censorship, piracy and strong international competition, specially from American blockbusters and so on. américaines….

Low production quality

Although there was an increase of more than 65% in the number of available sessions (20 million in 2012), audience numbers did not keep pace, as there was only an increase of 24% (460 million people). This difference highlights the decreasing number of spectators per session: 32 spectators per session in 2011 against 23 per session in 2012. There are several possible explanations for this, but the one of the most prominent is that some internationally awarded Chinese films were censored because they dealt with politically sensitive subjects or had "morally inappropriate" scenes. The result is that only one third of the total are shown. In 2012, 227 were distributed.

Fierce international competition 

The Chinese film industry faces very strong competition from international films, particularly american ones, which can more easily satisfy the curiosity of viewers who fancy Hollywood novelties. In 2012, only three Chinese films appeared among the top 10 movies at the box office. 34 foreign films, mostly Hollywood blockbusters, earned 52% of total box office incomes. (By comparison, French films occupy 40.2% of the French market, while American films occupy 45.3% of the American market.) In response to this challenge, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, commonly known as "SARFT", has imposed a strict import quota, which has eased slightly (from 20 to 34 foreign films permitted in 2012).

Cooperation or acquisition policies are undertaken simultaneously 

Chinese filmmakers have lately become more interested in international cooperation policies, which is a way to attract foreign producers and artists to China, mainly because coproduced films are not included in the foreign films quota. In August 2012, James Cameron, extremely popular in China for Titanic and Avatar, formed a joint venture with local producers in Tianjin to form the Cameron Pace Group China. Another example, Jean-Jacques Annaud chose China to make his new film which is financed in cooperation. In May 2012, the Dalian Wanda Group, one of the biggest Chinese film operators, became the number in the world after the purchase of AMC Entertainment at a cost of 2.6 billion dollars.

A conditioned future

These initiatives reveal that a balance between domestic production and international attractiveness to satisfy a huge market is sough. Ensuring the international competitiveness of Chinese films and satisfying the viewers’ aspiration is perhaps the greatest challenge that the Chinese film industry has to face today. 


XU Jialong , Oliver le Guay. 


Further reading:


Photo : SimonQ錫濛譙 on Flickr