Bombing at the Box Office

Why the sudden downturn in China’s film industry may help save it

Wolf Warrior 2 may have single-handedly saved the summer film market, but its sleeper success belies a general downturn in fortunes for Chinese cinema.

The highest-grossing Chinese film ever, Warrior 2 has netted over 773.6 million USD at the box office; it now ranks just below the original 1977 Star Wars, and above 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, in Box Office Mojo’s list of 100 all-time biggest earners.

Before the movie’s late July release, however, receipts were declining in an already-plateauing film market. Even Hollywood movies, long seen as market saviors, seemed to have lost their charm. When “Domestic Film Protection Month” was put on hiatus last summer, the number of imports reached an historic high of 102, an almost 48-percent increase from 2015 (the protectionist period returned this year, significantly helping Warrior 2). Yet sales in 2016 gained a mere 11.83 percent increase, against a three-year previous average of 30 percent. Mediocre movies like Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets, Independence Day: Resurgence, Storks, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and Moana all met with even less enthusiasm in China than the US market.

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Bombing at the Box Office is a story from our issue, “Down to Earth.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Liu Jue

Liu Jue is the co-managing editor of The World of Chinese Magazine. She has a Master of Arts in Communication from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Minzu University. She has been working for TWOC since 2012. She is interested in covering history, traditional culture, and Chinese language.

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