China: Are We Destined for A New Giant Monster of the Film Industry?

Hollywood.  Bollywood.  China?

With Hollywood being the king of all kings in the film industry, the question begs to be asked, “can another entity surpass the stronghold which Hollywood has on the film industry.”  Considering the history, infrastructure and talent pool of Hollywood, the title of king of the film industry is not going to be dethroned anytime soon but China is definitely making a strong case for a takeover.

A Closer Look at the Statistics

For the year 2015, according to the gross box office revenue for the United States was 10.19 billion and 7.18 for China.  Since the year 2009, United States gross box office returns have held steady at levels between 10 billion and 11 billion during this time span.  Has the United States leveled off or is there another growth spurt in their future?  China on the other hand has had a steady increase in gross box office returns and there is every indication that this trend will continue on upward in future years.

The Landscape in China

China is coming off of its biggest success to date with the release of the Chinese made animated movie, Monster Hunt.  This movie shattered all Chinese records and even eclipsed previous highly successful US films in China.  Successful Chinese movies have not been just animated films.  If you look at the list of top grossing Chinese films of recent, you will see a variety of genres and types of film.  The Chinese movie industry has been able to capitalize on a range of topics from a national to regional spotlight.  There are currently approximately 18 Chinese film studios and 39 film production companies in operation, which are serving approximately 5,660 cinemas in the world’s highest populated country.  China is now a major stop for films with international film promotion junkets.   All of this success has been guided by the China Film Group and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Factors for Success

Even with a sluggish economy, how has China been able to become so successful in the film industry?  The support of the Chinese government has been a tremendous asset to the film industry.  The Chinese have been able to capitalize on the expansion of infrastructure for film studios and production companies as well as the development of thousands of new cinemas around the country.  But if you build it, will they come?  In the case of the Chinese film industry, the answer is yes.  The number of cinemas has greatly increased in largely populated areas but also in suburban and regional areas.  Expansion into these remoter areas was extremely important because it opened up the world of cinema to a larger audience.  In present day China, you are seeing a generation of movie goers that can afford the luxury and are more accustomed to going out to the movies regularly versus it being an occasional treat.  This new market is offering lots of different types of movies to an expanded audience, which has made China in an excellent position to grow and potentially one-day, overtake Hollywood as the king of the movie industry.   

What’s Next?

Now that China has built a solid foundation with its audience and infrastructure, will it be able to capitalize on its recent success and continue to grow?  To do this, the film studios and production companies will have to continue to foster a talent pool of actors, writers and production staff that can produce a quality product which will one day be exportable to other markets just as the United States has done with movies from their film industry.  These are exciting times which we live in and through the power of entertainment, will China succeed in making more entertainment for its citizen and those throughout the world.  Only time with tell if there will be a new king of the film industry!


Elizabeth Van Kirk

MBA Candidate 2016