China opens Asia-Pacific Box Office in 2021, says Analyst

Theatrical box office in four of the biggest territories in Asia-Pacific grew by nearly 64% in the first months of 2021, to hit $8.22 billion, said S&P Global Market Intelligence. Despite the continuing negative impact of coronavirus in cinema operations and film release schedules, this gain was possible.

S&P Global Market Intelligence, which is connected to the financial analysis firm S&P, based its analysis on raw figures from OpusData. It tracked performance in China, Japan, South Korea and Australia, and used figures only for the first 11 months – meaning that it omitted the powerhouse debut of “Spider-Man: No Way Home”Two of those countries were visited in December. (“Spider-Man”Released in Japan on Friday. However, it is not yet confirmed in mainland China. It may never be permitted into Chinese cinemas.

However, the headline figure does not reflect the contrast between China’s performance and that of other markets.

For China, the S&P/Optus data shows box office between January and November 2021 reaching $6.44 billion, more than doubling the figure achieved in the first COVID year, 2020.

The S&P/Optus data shows Japanese box office shrinking by 26% to just $698 million, Korean box office increasing by 11% to $438 million and Australia’s rebounding 59% to $640 million.

(Full Year figures from the Korean Film Council, published earlier in this week, showed a 14% rise. Data from Japan’s Eiren and Australia’s Motion Picture Distributors’ Association are normally published at the end of January.)

In pre-COVID 2019 China, Japan and South Korea were respectively the world’s second, third and fourth largest cinema box office markets, behind only North America.

The S&P/Opus data show that the number of film releases remained weak outside China, which is increasingly operating on a separate economic, political cycle and film industry from the West.

China saw 74% more film releases than 2020. The number of titles on the Korean market rose by 11% compared to 2020. They dropped by 2% in Australia and 35% in Japan.

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