China’s five-year plan to remain the world’s biggest box office: details

  • The Chinese government this week presented a five-year plan for its film industry.
  • China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest box office during the pandemic.
  • Experts say China no longer needs Hollywood and fewer Hollywood films could be released there.

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China overtook the United States as the world’s largest theatrical market last year, mainly thanks to local productions that helped it bounce back quickly after months of shutdowns linked to a pandemic.

His government intends to keep the box office crown.

The Chinese Film Administration recently presented its five-year plan, in which it pledges to make China a “strong cultural power” by “joining the entire Party leadership on film work,” according to Variety. Deadline noted that the plan was highlighted during the Chinese Communist Party’s plenary session last week.

Variety said the plan includes:

  • Release 50 films per year that gross at least $ 15.7 million
  • Release at least 10 films per year that are “critically acclaimed and popular”
  • Local films represent over 55% of the total box office per year
  • Have 100,000 cinema screens by 2025, an increase from the current 77,000
  • Creation of a “national high-tech film research laboratory”
  • “To promote the overall improvement in the level of special effects of the film through the vigorous support of science fiction films”

Overall, Chinese productions are expected to portray a “trustworthy, kind and respectable image of China,” according to the plan.

The plan reflects steps the Chinese government has already taken to control the film market.

In a recent conversation with Insider, Aynne Kokas – professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and author of the book “Hollywood Made in China” – observed a “widespread tightening” in Chinese media and the film industry.

Simu liu shang chi

Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi.

Walt Disney Studios Cinema

This particularly impacted Hollywood releases. No Marvel films have been approved for release in China this year, from “Shang-Chi” to “Eternals,” amid controversies that have sparked the ire of some Chinese nationalists.

Kokas predicted that fewer Hollywood films would be approved in China in the coming years, and those that did would face tighter regulations. China currently has a quota of 34 films on foreign releases.

Chris Fenton, film producer and author of the book “Feeding the Dragon”, noted that the Chinese market “is moving away from Hollywood”.

“They don’t need Hollywood anymore to take seats,” Fenton said. “‘The Battle of Changjin Lake’ can do it.”

“The Battle of Changjin Lake” is a Chinese war film that has grossed $ 882 million so far in China alone, making it the highest grossing film in the world this year. It should soon be released in other markets, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

godzilla vs kong

“Godzilla vs. Kong”

Warner Bros.

Chinese films occupied the region’s box office during the pandemic. Aside from “Fast 9” and “Godzilla vs. Kong”, Hollywood movies have largely stumbled.

If the Chinese government wants the country’s own films to make up 55% of its annual box office, it shouldn’t be too difficult to move forward. They accounted for 50% of the Chinese box office in 2016, 60% in 2018 and 85% in 2020, according to research firm Ampere Analysis.

Imax, the film technology company specializing in high-quality cameras and projection systems, could be an important part of the Chinese government’s theater expansion plans and its quest to improve its technological prowess. CEO Richard Gelfond told Insider in a recent interview that the Chinese market could support 1,300 Imax theaters. There are currently 750 in the region.

The company has adopted Chinese films in recent years. “The Battle of Changjin Lake” was filmed with Imax cameras.

“Our brand has grown with the Chinese film industry to some extent,” Gelfond said.


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