Cinema: Global Box Office Revenue Down, and U.S. Market Share Shrinks

The big Hollywood movie studios’ key  business model has been in place for a while: focus on making tent-pole, CGI-heavy comic book/action hero movies, then rely on global distribution of those franchises to audiences world-wide who can easily follow the narratives. U.S. audiences became a secondary market, targeted mainly by indie producers catering to consumers watching Netflix at home on big screens of the latest variety – LCD, OLED, QLED, heck, even microLED. (Check out the Oscar nominations – a lot of the movies actually played in theaters for like two days before going to streaming,  just long enough to technically be theatrical releases and so eligible for nomination.)

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that the cinema market (you remember, people actually going to movie theaters) was a big deal. And the exciting projection wars pitted Texas Instruments DLP cinema projectors vs. Sony projectors, and then (as DCI specs faded in importance for many venues) 3LCD projectors also. 3D in theaters, remember that? And then dvLED in theaters. Each InfoComm, and CES show had heated debate on the future of cinema, and the latest and very sophisticated in-theater technology was demo’d.

Why have you heard so little about projection or display technology for cinema recently? Like much else in the global economics, things they are a’ chang’in. We’ll be covering cinema in the next issue, it’s still important on many levels, but this is an interesting article below – mainly for the one graph in the story that pretty much tells it all.

Sara Fischer and Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian of Axios explain the Chinese dynamic. China has always been a key market for Hollywood – since the birth of the new business model. But recent policy changes in the world’s most populous country are affecting everything.

Fischer and Allen-Ebrahimian explain that

  • It wasn’t just Marvel films that were affected. The total shareof U.S. films among China’s foreign film offerings declined from 46% in 2020 to 39% in 2021, Variety reports.
  • Revenue for U.S. films in China fell across the board, while Chinese films dominated the box office.
  • Of the foreign films that did play in Chinese theaters last year, just 28% were 2021 titles; most were older films.


Read the Axios, Sara Fischer and Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian story here.

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