China's total number of cinema screens has now exceeded those of the US, according to PwC's global entertainment and media outlook 2017-2021.
The report reveals that China had 41,056 cinema screens in 2016 compared to 40,928 in the US. It also suggests that by 2021, the country will have more than 80,000 screens, nearly twice as many as the US.
Jane Kong, PwC China entertainment and media partner, said growth will be driven by new screens being built especially in Tiers 3 to 5 cities, especially among middle-class cinemagoers with rising disposable incomes. Consumers are also expected to pay a premium for a big screen experience because of increased cinema accessibility in town centres, especially in lower tier cities.
"Cinemas will continue to be built in China at a phenomenal rate," he said.
In 2016, China was the world’s second largest box-office market with revenue of USD 6.2 billion(around HKD 48.3 billion), behind the U.S with revenue of USD10.6 billion(around HKD 82.6 billion). For a variety of reasons, China’s box office slowed down in 2016, but its revenue is still growing although not at the double-digit rate that was reported in 2015. China remains a lucrative market for cinema with revenue expected to grow at a staggering 11.6% CAGR from US$6.2bn in 2016 to US$10.7bn by 2021.
3D films responded well in China
China is on course to be ranked first globally in the number of IMAX 3D screens by 2021. Approximately 575 IMAX 3D screens are to be built in China by 2021, up from 296 3D screens in 2016. A figure higher than anywhere else in the world.
"China is a major market for bolstering revenue for IMAX 3D. Chinese consumers have responded well to 3D films. The advantages of domestic IMAX’s growth is the opportunity to introduce technology right away. This changes the mind set of consumers to be more willingly to pay a premium for a cinematic experience," added Kong.
Also of significant growth is the performance of cinema advertising revenue, which experienced a rapid increase and is expected to be worth USD 939 million by 2021 at a high CAGR of 9.8%, up from USD 587 million in 2016.
"Pan entertainment" becomes popular in generating revenue streams for APAC producers
Asia Pacific is the primary source of growth for the global cinema industry, and by a considerable distance. Box office revenue in Asia Pacific is expected to rise at a 7.9% CAGR in the next five years to reach US$20.4 billion in 2021. This underlines the growing popularity of Cinema in Asia Pacific (and China in particular) as rapid urbanisation continues, and cities modernise by building more cinemas into shopping centres to cater to the rising middle class.
Furthermore, Asia Pacific box office revenue will significantly eclipse that of North America, and will have more than double the screens (over 100,000) in the region compared with about 46,000 in North America by 2021.
Within the segment, a growing trend is towards a "pan entertainment" approach to US and Chinese movie productions, creating multiple revenue streams from the IPs they created or possessed. For example, the story-lines or characters of popular local literature or fictions would be modified into a movie, online/mobile game and premium products.