Global 2015 Box Office: Revenue Hits Record $38 Billion-Plus

Star Wars Jurassic World Split - H 2015

Star Wars Jurassic World Split - H 2015

The milestone is due in large part to the China box office — which grew an astounding 49 percent — and a recovery in North America.

Revenue at the 2015 global box office crossed $38 billion for the first time in history, surpassing last year's record $36.7 billion, Rentrak reported early Sunday.

International Weekend 1/3/16

Rentrak for Weekend of 1/3/16
Weekend Cume
1. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens $96.3M $770.5M
2. Detective Chinatown $45.0M $58.0M
3. Mr. Six $38.0M $92.0M
4. Mojin: The Lost Legend $32.0M $230.0M
5. Nuovo progetto $20.0M $20.0M
6. The Peanuts Movie $16.8M $77.1M
7. The Himalayas $11.0M $43.0M
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip $10.3M $24.3M
9. Little Door Gods $10.0M $12.5M
10. The Good Dinosaur $9.3M $129.1M

That includes an unprecedented $11 billion-plus in North America, up 6.3 percent from last year's dismal $10.35 billion, as well as 2013's record $10.9 billion.

A final international tally isn't immediately available, but Rentrak is predicting that global revenue will clock in between $38 billion and $40 billion, putting the international figure anywhere between $27 billion and $29 billion. China — where the box office grew an astonishing 49 percent — is a large part of the boom.

“This global record proves that going to the movies is a beloved pastime that is enjoyed throughout the world, with moviegoers from a wide array of backgrounds and cultures all coming together for the shared in-theater experience … providing the collective horsepower to push us near the $40 billion mark for the first time ever,” Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian said.

Last year was witness to some of the biggest box-office hits in history, including Jurassic World, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Minions, and, of course, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has earned $1.51 billion globally since its launch a little more than two weeks ago. The five titles — all from Universal or Disney, the two studios that dominated the landscape — are among the 11 top-grossing films of all time, not accounting for inflation.

Jurassic World remains the top-grossing release of 2015 with $1.67 billion, but Force Awakens will soon overtake the dinos.

Then there's China, where revenue reached a record $6.78 billion (44 billion yuan), the country's film regulator reported late last week. 

The expansion marked the highest rate of growth since 2011, according to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). Only five years ago, the total annual box office in China was just $1.51 billion. By the end of 2017, China is expected to surpass North America and become the largest movie market in the world.