Hollywood’s enthusiasm for the Chinese market is growing strong despite China’s annual limit of 34 foreign-made film releases.
In 2013, Chinese box office receipts soared to $3.6 billion, up 33 percent from $2.7 billion in 2012, according to data from the research firm Rentrak and reported by Bloomberg. Domestic films accounted for 48.5 percent of the total market.
The number of theater screens in China reached 13,118 in 2012, tripling since 2008, according to Beijing-based research firm, EntGroup. The online video market is estimated at 17.8 billion yuan ($2.86 billion) this year and is expected to double to 36.6 billion yuan by 2017, according to the consulting firm IResearch.
China is very important to the US movie industry and movie studios are looking for ways to penetrate the huge Chinese market, including sending Hollywood A-listers to promote films.
Walt Disney Co. sent Hollywood stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson to Beijing to promote the latest Marvel release Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Previously for the Iron Man 3 movie, Disney sent star Robert Downey Jr. to attend a gala at the Forbidden City. Iron Man 3 set a record for opening-day ticket sales in China.
Disney is marketing the Captain America sequel through a partnership with the Chinese video website Youku Tudou. Disney will use the Web to build its fan base for the franchise.
“A lot of these characters, while being very famous in the US, a lot more people need to understand them in China. That’s a problem that U.S. partners and Chinese partners need to work together on.” said Youku’s Chief Executive Officer Victor Koo.
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