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Quality better for box office than quotas

By  Liu Xiaocong (Global Times)

09:31, September 06, 2012

(Global Times /Illustration: Sun Ying)

Summer's always movie blockbuster season. This summer, Chinese movies like Painted Skin II, Detective Hunter Zhang, The Zodiac Mystery and The Silent War have been prominent.

In June, over 30 domestically produced movies were released, while only about six overseas films such as The Hunger Games and Madagascar III were allowed to be shown on Chinese cinema screens.

Some US media have shown their concerns about the US' shrinking share of audience in China, an emerging market which has the most potential audience in the world. US studios schedule their pictures' launch dates to avoid a collision of similar movies.

However, they complain that China is taking measures to restrain their total gross by forcing them to open simultaneously and compete with themselves, since the Chinese authorities set strict limits on when and for how long movies can be shown.

I don't see that much problem here. After all, the price of movies is not that high and therefore will not result in limiting the choices of moviegoers.

Apple has indicated that iPad Mini and iPhone 5 will not be put on the shelf on the same date because this will lead to unnecessary self-competition.

Yet the cost of watching a movie is far less than that of buying an iPhone or iPad, and I believe that many people will try to watch all of their favorite movies within the brief time they're allowed into Chinese cinemas.

The revenue might not be that different with an even distribution schedule. In addition to that, there is great demand. In the first quarter of this year alone, 199 new theaters have been set up in China, according to Chinese Film Market magazine. The current 10,000 cinemas is not enough to cope with the 100 million moviegoers, letting alone the huge untapped rural markets.

Many also believe China is using blackout periods to restrict US blockbusters from absorbing too great a proportion of the market share.

Despite the increasing number of cinemas, the first half year's box office receipts were less than last year's, and the postponement of imported blockbusters is assumed to be responsible for the drop. In fact, the rebound is likely to be robust enough to help US movies regain the top rank of China's box office.

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