China Overtakes North America as the World’s Biggest Box Office in 2020

Photo by Li Yang via Unsplash

China Overtakes North America as the World’s Biggest Box Office in 2020

By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer

While North America deals with further ramifications of the COVID-19 virus China just catapulted to become the worldwide box office leader.

The coronavirus decimated the U.S. entertainment industry as theaters shuttered their doors, and movies and television shows halted production. Though some markets have reopened theaters, Hollywood blockbusters are scarce, and major markets continue to keep theaters closed. Meanwhile, China slowly lifted its regulations and reopened theaters.

China’s 2020 revenue reached just shy of $2 billion on Sunday after adding $46.4 million to the weekend’s running total. With the U.S. entertainment industry continually being forced to call audibles, the prediction is that China will hold the top spot in movie ticket sales for the remainder of the year.  

According to consultant Artisan Gateway, China’s total gross stands at $1.99 billion, compared to the $1.94 billion in the North American market. 

Although China’s numbers are down by 75.5% compared to last year, the country’s market appears to be rebounding, with tens of thousands of theaters welcoming moviegoers after six months of closures. 

In addition to a disproportionate number of open theaters, higher capacity rates of 75%, and a larger population, China also benefited from a weeklong holiday, which ran from Oct. 1-8. Over the course of the nationwide holiday, Chinese theaters raked in $586 million worth of tickets. 

Local blockbuster MY PEOPLE, MY HOMELAND earned $19.1 million over the last few days. Furthermore, China also produced the most significant global movie of 2020 with the WWII epic THE EIGHT HUNDRED which has earned $460 million so far. 

North America’s box office, however, pales in comparison. 

Liam Neeson’s HONEST THIEF leads the domestic box office with only $3.7 million, which was considered a respectable amount given the restrictions. 

Movieguide® previously reported

Many distributors are wary about releasing their box office earnings due to low numbers. However, Open Road’s honesty helps exhibitors and other distributors better evaluate the market.

“Open Road is proud to support U.S. theatres with Liam Neeson in a role that audiences will love,” Open Road founding CEO Tom Ortenberg said. “We know many Americans across the country are excited to be back at the movies.”

Recently, New York and Los Angeles reopened a portion of their theaters at limited capacity.  Many exhibitors see this as a major step in the right direction and a necessary starting point for a healthy restart.

“It is a monumental step in the right direction for our entire industry that theatres are starting to open across the state of New York,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said.

If the list of scheduled movies can stabilize, alongside fewer theater restrictions, the U.S. box office could see the gap closing between last year’s revenue and that of 2020.