Entertainment services provider Maoyan Entertainment (HKEX: 1869) has released a report showing the Chinese film market was the best performing national market in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report, which Maoyan conducted jointly with social platform Weibo Corp (Nasdaq: WB), said China’s total box office revenue reached $3.1 billion in 2020, making it the largest movie market in the world for the first time.
Movie theaters in China were closed nationwide for 178 days in 2020 and began reopening in July. By the year’s end, 94.8% of them had reopened for business, according to the report.
Not surprisingly, there was no expectation of exceeding 2019 sales even in comparatively pandemic-free China, but in December the monthly box office tally reached 92% of the preceding year-end figures. Average screening attendance had reached 95%, while the average ticket price exceeded last year’s by 3%.
On average, the number of movies watched by Chinese audiences in 2020 was 1.73, a decline from 2.88 in 2019. Total box office revenue was down 68.2% year-over-year.
Additionally, the report stated, “When asked about what methods they used for watching movies in the second half of 2020, about 32% of respondents reported watching movies both online and in theaters. About 42% of people still preferred watching movies in theaters.”
The numbers are not surprising, considering China’s effective containment of Covid-19 and the reopening of its economy ahead of other nations. On Monday, the country reported 33 new infections. Since mid-August, the number of new daily cases has ranged from below 10 to the peak of about 47.
Now, as Reuters reports, the country prepares for an investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origins of the outbreak and is doubling down on efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
On Tuesday, shares in Maoyan closed down 5%, at HK$12.46 apiece, in Hong Kong. Weibo stock ended the day 1% higher at $41.09 per share in New York.
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC), U.S. top movie theater chain owned by China’s Wanda Group, has had a rough year. From $7.12 per share a year ago, it now trades at $1.98 per share. Many U.S. theaters remain closed and blockbusters delayed. As Bloomberg reports, the industry hopes to recover to semi-normal levels in April.
The Hollywood Reporter estimated last month that the North American box office grossed estimated $2.3 billion in revenue in 2020.