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American Film Market Dailies


AFM Poster
NOVEMBER 1 - 8, 2017  SANTA MONICA

Every Fall, the Global Film Industry Converges in Santa Monica: Filmmakers, producers, directors and writers from around the world come to AFM to gain exposure, discover new projects and make deals. The American Film Market & Conferences is the largest motion picture trade fair in the world. 

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China Box Office Growth Leaves U.S. Independents Behind

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After a less than spectacular 3.7% revenue growth in 2016, the Chinese Box Office in the first eight months of 2017 came roaring back, increasing nearly 16% to $5.51 billion for the period according IFTA’s analysis of figures from Box Office Mojo. Revenues were up significantly for all sectors save one: U.S. independents whose Box Office share reached just 1.2% for the period. (See appendix 1)

While animation films have in the past been one of the most important revenue sources for the Chinese Box Office, the current Box Office was driven by the “Action” genre. The Top Ten for the eight month period sported a total of seven Action films which accounted for fully 40% ($2.22M) of period revenue. Altogether, 45 Action films took in $3.03B (55%).  A distant second was the “Fantasy” genre with a take of $624.49M from just nine films, led by Kong: Skull Island($168.18M). 33 Animated films took in $451.63M.

Once again, China-sourced films took in the greatest share of Box Office at 47.1%, some $2.59 billion. Leading the way was Wolf Warrior 2, a Chinese “Action” film that took in an astonishing $810.8 million after its July 7 release, making it the most successful local film ever and driving the summer 2017 Box Office to a reported 24% increase from summer 2016. Chinese Co-Productions took in $705.6M for the eight month period, 12.8% of the total. This, on just seven titles. However, three of these films were in the Top Ten: the China / India co-production, Kung Fu Yoga ($254.53M) at #3, Transformers: The Last Knight ($228.84M) at #5, and Kong: Skull Island (mentioned above) at #8 (See appendix 2). Taken together, China sourced films and China Co-Productions accounted for nearly 60% of Box Office for the period.

Box Office for films from the United States yielded great numbers for the major studios, less so for Independents. 23 Studio films took in $1.89B (34.2%) for the period, an amount just over $100M shy of the Major’s total for all of 2016. With the revenue share quota now at 34, a possible 9 or more releases could occur before the December Blackout period. Three major studio “Action” titles made the Top Ten: The Fate of the Furious, #2 ($392.8M), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, #7 ($172.23M), and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, #9 ($164.07M).

Only ten U.S. Independent films were released during the eight month period, bringing in just $66.34 M, an amount far below the full year 2016 total of $367.94 M. Just two films took in significant revenues:  the “Romance” filmLa La Land ($35.92M) and the Sci-Fi film, Arrival($15.88M). Among the other independent titles released were Lion ($2.3 M), Power Rangers 2017 ($4.25 M), and Manchester by the Sea which opened August 25 and brought in $405 K in two days. With independent releases averaging about 15 per year since 2010, prospects for a significant increase in Box Office revenues are slim.

While at first glance it appears that Other Nationality films are on track for a record year at the Chinese Box Office, a closer look shows that things are not as “rosy” as they seem.  75% of the $258.32 M in receipts is accounted for by the Indian Action film Dangal which finished in the Top Ten for the period at #6. The remaining $65.27 M is mostly accounted for by the release of six animated films whose Box Office totaled $40.71 M. The most successful amongst these was Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi from Japan at $21.47 M (See appendix 3).

While there are many reasons that a film enjoys Box Office success in China, one factor that stands out for independents is the fact that absolutely no independent films were released during either the Lunar New Year Black Out period (approximately January 20 – February 6) or during the Summer Blackout period (approximately July 17 – August 24 in contrast with all the other film sources (See appendix 4).

48 Chinese films, including the Wolf Warriors 2, opened during the blackout periods receiving over $1.87 B in revenue. 10 major studio films were released during the blackout periods with a Box Office of $653.30 M. Two Chinese Co-Productions were released, one each period for a revenue total of $255.85 M.

Even four Other Nationality films were given blackout period releases -- a drama, two animated films and the UK Documentary, Earth: One Amazing Day. Together they averaged $3.84 M.

Release dates mean a lot to the success of any film and black-out periods and other artificial barriers to fully commercial dating of films can undermine box office results. The Independent’s experience during the first eight months of 2017 lends credence to this.

China Charts and Appendix 1, 2, 3, 4

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About American Film Market Dailies

WOLF Jonathan
(IFTA)

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