China helps drive global movie earnings to record

Global movie earnings hit a record $38.3 billion in 2015, with China accounting for $6.8 billion, a nearly 50 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

The new record is a 5 percent increase over 2014, with box offices outside of China making up $27.2 billion of the total.

The Asia-Pacific region was the main driver of international growth at movie houses, up 13 percent, according to the annual report, and China accounted for nearly half of the entire Asia-Pacific total.

"These numbers clearly show that the international marketplace, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of global box office today, is only continuing to grow in importance," said Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the MPAA and a former US Senator of Connecticut, on Tuesday at the annual National Association of Theatre Owners convention in Las Vegas.

Trailing China in 2015 was the UK with $1.9 billion, , Japan, $1.8 billion, India, $1.6 billion, and South Korea, $1.5 billion.

The US box office, which includes totals from Canada, hit $11.1 billion, an 8 percent increase year-over-year, and was credited to several smash hits, including Jurassic World ($652 million domestically), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($459 million) and Inside Out ($356 million).

Several Hollywood blockbusters broke various same-day and opening weekend records at China’s box office last year, but ultimately ended the year on a weak note.

December was another blackout period for foreign movies in China, and Star Wars, which saw a wide release in late December, was unable to secure a China release until January. Its performance in China topped out at about $125 million, far below the $277 million that analysts had predicted.

Domestic films in China have had a far better overall performance. Monster Hunt and Lost in Hong Kong were the second- and fourth-largest box office performances in 2015, respectively. This year so far, Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid has made $526 million since its release in early February during Lunar New Year.

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