China Is Now World's Second Largest Film Market Behind the U.S.

Painted Skin: Resurrection

It was just last year when China surpassed India and became the third largest film market in the world with $2B in annual box office revenue.

This year, it's moving pass Japan. After nine months in 2012, China has already made nearly $2B at the box office. It's expected to reach $2.5B by the end of the year and overtake Japan as the second largest film market in the world. That wasn't supposed to happen for another couple of years.

The third quarter figure for 2012 is a 27% improvement over 2011’s, which is impressive because the year-to-year growth is about the same as that of the previous year. It still has a ways to go to catch up to the U.S. though, which has done over $10B in each of the last three years.

So far, the top grossing imported film in China is the 3D re-release of “Titanic,” which grossed a phenomenal $150M, more than three times what the record-breaking first release took in about fifteen years ago. This just goes to show how much the industry has grown in the last decade and a half.

The top domestic film is the supernatural martial arts thriller “Painted Skin: The Resurrection,” which took in $112.5M, a record for domestic releases.

A couple local films I’m looking forward to before the year ends are Jackie Chan’s “Chinese Zodiac,” his long awaited return to the director’s chair; Wong Kar-Wai’s “The Grandmasters,” another take on Bruce Lee’s martial arts teacher Ip Man; and Andrew Lau’s “The Guillotines,” a sort of remake of “The Flying Guillotine.” Donnie Yen’s “The Special Identity” was initially scheduled for this month, but it’s not looking like it’ll happen until early 2013. Yes, they're all martial arts films.

I don’t think any of them can break “Painted Skin: The Resurrection”’s record, though. For that, we’ll have to rely on Feng Xiaogang and his film “Back to 1942,” a Chinese production about a deadly famine starring American actors Tim Robbin and Adrien Brody (yeah, it’s now all the rage in China to cast established American actors in their expensive productions). After all, in 2010, Feng’s “Aftershock” did break the then all-time record with about $98M.

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