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The Growing Red Carpet of China's Film Industry
   2016-02-05 14:14:05    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liu Ranran

By Shafei M. Hali

Illustration by Robert Wiggin

The Chinese government has been trying to steer the country's economy towards a demand driven model, this is something that cannot happen overnight as this requires more of a cultural change rather than an economic one. Recently a lot of positive indicators pointing towards this cultural change have been observed some of these changes are taking effect slowly while some at an exponential rate and one these fast changing trends is in the movie business of China. This industry has been on the rise for the past couple of year but recently in the past two years or so it has picked up massive pace and is leading the way for China to become the biggest movie industry in the world and that is why skeptics of China's economy need to sit back and enjoy a movie with pop corn.

If we look at the data concerning the film industry, it confirms that from 2001 to 2007 annual revenue from the film market in China grew at 34% at a compounding rate. From 2008 to 2014 the same growth gathered tremendous speed to reach 40% annually. For the year 2015 China's movie revenue increased by 52 percent for the first three quarters and there were no signs for it to slow down in the last quarter. In 2012 China's film market crossed Japan's to become the second-largest film market after the United States. The box-office receipts from the year 2015 revealed that the market was worth around ($6.5 billion). Experts now believe that China's film market will cross that of the United States in the next two to three years if not before. The people in China have embraced movies, and going to the movies is fast becoming a cultural norm. Both foreign and especially domestic Chinese movies have been performing great at the box office because of this trend.

If one looks closely at the demographics of China it can easily be seen that the age group between 25-54 years is the biggest group, this group accounts for almost half of the total population of the country and the important thing to note here is that, that half of China's population (678 million people) is still more than double the world's third largest populous country which is USA (322 million people). Now why are we talking about this age group in particular, it is because this is the age group in China which is moving towards consumerism and this age group comprises of people who are young and with cash at hand and who are eager to leave the house for some entertainment. This is the age group along with teenagers account for a big share of the population which mostly fills the seats of the thousands of beautiful theaters in China. Just five years ago there were less than 5000 screens and now it is estimated that there are more than 30,000 screens and while we are witnessing a growth of movie goers in China the growth rate of the screens is increasing at an unbelievable rate of almost 10 screens a day.

With this massive rise in a market, it puts a lot of pressure on the film industry to produce good entertainment and this is why Shangywood has been improving the quality of its movie. To name a few of the big names topping the 2015 box office charts in China there was; "Monster Hunt" which grossed around $381.8 million, "Lost in Hong Kong" grossed over $253 million, "Mojin: The lost Legend" grossed over $ 248 million, "Good Bye Mr. Loser" earned more than $ 226 million and the receipts from "Jian Bing Man" revealed it earned more than $186 million.

China is also a huge market for international movies especially from Hollywood. If we just look at the figures coming in for J.J Abrams "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" which topped USA domestic box office with $ 760.5 million and has broken the record at the U.S. domestic box office, which was previously set by director James Cameron's epic 'Avatar'. In order to beat 'Avatar' with a global take of nearly 2.8 billion U.S. dollars, the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" needs to cativate more audiences worldwide and hopes are pegged with China as it was released in China over this weekend. According to the early result compiled and released, the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" film didn't do too bad at all on its opening night in China in fact it has come second on the list for highest earning movies for a single day close behind "Fast and the Furious 7". According to Disney "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" earned 33 million U.S. dollars on its opening night in China and kick started the Star Wars mania in China.

Over all 2015 has let us know that the film-market in China is not only expanding but has huge potential as the Chinese economy becomes more demand driven. In recent years China's economy has slowed in its growth rate owing to the global economic slowdown and also because of dropping oil prices but in contrast the film industry in China has been growing at almost twice the pace of the country's GDP growth making it the fasted growing film industry in the world as compared the film industry in USA which has been growing at a mere 1 percent since 2002. This fast growing industry is not only boosting consumerism in China but is also leading the way for a lot of investment because where ever there is growth there is a chance to make profits and investors who are basically profit driven are not blind from this new consumption trend, they are investing in real-estate and in the developers who are building new theaters and off course shopping malls; where these theaters are normally located. All in all the film industry and the market of China will become a very massive industry of China and will play an important cultural as well as monetary part in China's transitioning economy.

The Author: Shafei Moiz Hali has a master's degree from George Mason University, Virginia, USA in the field of International Commerce and Public Policy. Mr. Hali has been working as an Assistant Professor at the National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad, Pakistan with the department of Government and Public Policy Since 2009. Currently he is pursuing his PhD from the College of Public Administration at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), China.



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