China's summer box office has surged to nearly 9 billion yuan ($1.25 billion) as of Monday, surpassing the earnings from the same period in 2019 and setting a new record.
The summer movie season, which lasts from June to August, is a crucial indicator for China's film industry and accounts for a significant share of the year's screenings and viewership.
According to box office tracker Dengta Data, this year's earnings from June 1 to July 17 have already reached 8.92 billion yuan as of Monday, surpassing the 7.02 billion yuan in 2019.
The top two spots on China's summer box office chart are currently held by the Chinese suspense crime film "Lost in the Stars" and the drama film "Never Say Never," with respective earnings of 3.36 billion yuan and 1.50 billion yuan.
More Chinese productions, including the mythological film "Creation of The Gods I" and the comedy "Advancing of ZQ," are scheduled to be released later this month. The foreign blockbuster "Meg 2: The Trench" will also be available for Chinese cinema-goers this summer.
Industry observers anticipate that this year's summer box office will reach the 10-billion-yuan threshold.
Xiang Kai, a film director, attributes the current active summer box office to the release of numerous films with rich themes and genres.
A record-high total of 114 films are set to be released during this period, compared to 91 in the summer of 2022.
Additionally, the exemption of funds from box office revenue has led to intensive screenings of many films during the summer season, Xiang told the Global Times on Monday.
On May 23, the Ministry of Finance and the China Film Administration jointly issued a notice on the phased exemption of special funds from May 1, 2023 to October 31, 2023 in order to support the development of the film industry.
The film industry has benefited from policy support, leading to an overall recovery in the consumer market.
As of June 30, the total box office revenue for films in 2023 reached 26.27 billion yuan, a 52.91 percent increase compared to the same period in 2022, according to the China Film Administration.
Domestic films accounted for 75.92 percent of the total box office, earning 19.94 billion yuan. The number of moviegoers nationwide also increased by 51.76 percent from the previous year, reaching 604 million by the end of June.
Listed companies in the film industry have also anticipate positive financial results. Six companies, including China Film and Focus Media Information Technology, have forecasted an increase in revenue for the first half of 2023, while five other companies, such as Wanda Film Holding Co and Hengdian Entertainment Co, expect a return to growth.
According to PWC's Global Entertainment and Media Industry Outlook 2023-2027, China's box office revenue is projected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024. The report also predicts that China's film market will surpass the US between 2024 and 2025, accounting for 27 percent of the global total in 2027, making it the world's largest film market.