China Tops North America as World’s Largest Movie Market Amid Pandemic

China’s total box office revenue reached 20.42 billion yuan ($3.16 billion) in 2020, making it the largest movie market in the world for the first time, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2020 China Film Market Report jointly released by China’s microblog platform Weibo and Maoyan Entertainment.

Movie theaters were closed nationwide during the Chinese New Year holiday in late January, in an effort to control the virus, and started gradually reopening on July 20. Thanks to the swift economic recovery and fueled by the pent-up demand, Chinese films had recovered 90% of their market year-on-year by December, with the monthly box office tally reaching 92% compared to the same period in 2019.

10,700 movie theaters, roughly 94.8% of the total, had re-opened for business by the end of last year, as the domestic COVID-19 outbreak was brought under control. A total of 548 million movie tickets were sold.

SEE ALSO: 43 Days After Re-opening, Chinese Movie Theaters See New Life

Despite a decrease of 68.2% year-on-year and a decrease of 66.5% compared to 2018, China was the largest movie market in the world for the first year on record, grossing $3.16 billion yuan at the box office. By comparison, the North American box offices may stop at $2.3 billion in revenue, according to a mid-December preliminary estimate by The Hollywood Reporter.

In addition, North American box office revenue plummeted 80% in 2020 amid the pandemic and unprecedented theater closures, while global revenue tumbled more than 70%, according to a Hollywood Reporter report.

Box office revenue totaled more than 18.1 billion yuan since movie theaters resumed operations on July 20, 2020. By December, average screening attendance had reached 95% compared to the previous year, while the average ticket price grown to 103% of its level, and the number of newly released movies last month remained the same as in December 2019.

Historical war dramas, including “The Eight Hundred” and “The Sacrifice,” grossed 4.23 billion yuan at the box office, accounting for one-fifth of revenue this year.

Peaks in attendance were recorded during summertime, National Day Holiday (Oct. 1 to Oct. 8) and the end of the year (Nov. 27 to Dec. 31), contributing 57.8% of total box office revenue.

Younger moviegoers showed a greater willingness to return to cinemas. Their average age was 28.8, with viewers aged between 19 and 24 accounting for 31.9% the total, up from 23.4% since 2019.