China's film regulator released statistics on the 2016 Chinese film industry on New Year's Eve. "The Mermaid" and "Zootopia" took top positions as the top grossing domestic and foreign film, respectively.
A poster for film "The Mermaid." [File photo]
The data from the China Film Bureau shows that domestic films accounted for 58.33 percent of the year's box office total. Annual urban attendance reached 1.37 billion admissions, an increase of 8.89 percent year-on-year.
2016's box-office total reached 45.71 billion yuan (US$6.58 billion), a mere 3.73 percent growth over 2015's 44 billion yuan, the lowest in a decade.
In the past year, 10 films went beyond the 1 billion yuan mark, with seven Chinese films (including co-productions) included on the list. Also, 84 films went beyond the 100 million yuan mark in 2016.
Stephen Chow's "The Mermaid" was at the top of China's film industry, grossing a stunning 3.39 billion yuan (US$527 million) in China's domestic market, a figure even higher than the America's top 2016 domestic grosser, Disney's "Finding Dory," which grossed US$486 million in North America. "The Mermaid" also found success in other overseas markets, grossing US$553 million worldwide.
The success of "The Mermaid" prompted industry analysts to speculate and predict a 2016 year box-office total of 60 billion yuan (US$8.64 billion), but box-office receipts slowed down month after month, as the performances of the most anticipated blockbuster films, such as Zhang Yimou's "The Great Wall," Feng Xiaogang's "I Am Not Madame Bovary" and Koan Hui and Yang Longcheng's all-star cast "League of Gods," later didn't reach expectations. Now experts believed 2015's 49-percent growth rate, the highest on record, was partly the result of a bubble and gave the industry false hopes.
While movie ticket sales slowed down, China's speed of building new theaters has not been sluggish. China added about 26 new screens a day, or 9,552 in total, in 2016, and now has 41,179 movie screens, the most in the world, 85 percent of which are capable of projecting 3D films.
The highest grossing imported foreign film in the Chinese market was Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Zootopia," which grossed 1.53 billion yuan (US$235 million) in China. It was also crowned as the highest grossing animated feature in China ever. Disney also became the highest earner among Hollywood's six major studios in the Chinese market, reaping more than 6 billion yuan in total in China with "Zootopia," "Captain America: Civil War," "The Jungle Book," "Finding Dory," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and more.
In 2016, there were 92 foreign films imported to China, the most in history, grossing 19.05 billion in total. Three foreign films grossed over 1 billion yuan, including "Zootopia," "Captain America: Civil War," both from Disney, and "Warcraft," a phenomenal success in China but a flop in other countries.
The report also stated that overseas box office figures for Chinese films were 3.83 billion yuan (US$550 million), a rise of 38 percent. The number of feature films produced in China was 772, with an additional 49 animated features, 67 scientific and educational films, 32 documentary films and 24 films of special genres.