Shanghai: China's Box Office Predicted to Grow as Much as 16 Percent in 2017

Fate of the Furious Still Dwayne Johnson - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

After years of stellar growth, the county's theatrical market slowed dramatically last year, but Chinese analysts predict a rebound.

After a sluggish performance in 2016, China's box-office revenue is projected to grow as much 16 percent this year, according to an analysis by Fudan University. 

The rosy box office figures came from Dr. Qin Chen, a research fellow at the Fudan University School of Economics, who presented his findings to industry insiders at the Fanink sponsored forum held at the Shanghai International Film Festival on Tuesday. 

Chen said that based on the performance of the first half of 2017, the Middle Kingdom's theatrical market will grow in a range between 9.7 percent and 15.9 percent year-on-year for a total revenue range forecast of $7.4 billion-$7.8 billion (?50.5 billion-?53.3 billion). 

The optimistic outlook is at odds with 2016, when China's total box-office growth slowed markedly. Ticket revenue growth slowed to 3.7 percent to reach ?45.7 billion ($6.58 billion), according to official data from China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Last year's weaker gain at China's box office was attributed to a combination of factors and subject of much debate. Chief among the reasons were weaker local films, a crackdown on box-office fraud, big cutbacks in generous ticket subsidies from fast-growing online platforms and overall weakness in the Chinese economy. 

Chen pointed to the fast start made at the Chinese box office this year, with big Hollywood tentpoles leading the charge. Universal's Fate of the Furious raced past the competition earlier this year to become the biggest foreign movie in China ever, clocking up a massive $392 million. Kong: Skull Island hit pay dirt in the world's second movie market with $168 million, a figure that was level pegging with its domestic take.

The big surprise was Sony's Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which grabbed a hugely impressive $160 million to spark talk of more sequels. There were also strong performances from Logan ($106 million), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($101 million) and Beauty and the Beast ($85.8 million). Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is still in theaters in China and has already made more than $140 million in its run so far. 

There have also been a few big local films, with Jackie Chan's martial arts comedy Kung Fu Yoga earning $254 million, and Tsui Hark-directed comedy Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back picking up $240 million. 

The second half of the year also looks promising with the fifth Transformers movie opening in the country on Friday. Transformers: Age of Extinction grossed $320 million in China in 2014 and became a country-wide phenomenon. Sony's Spider-Man: Homecoming and Universal's Despicable Me 3 should also do good business in China.