The coming cinema boom in China

China was the biggest box-office market in 2021 (partly aided by lockdowns in the US) and with the lifting of COVID measures, is likely to come roaring back in 2023

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a movie hall in China. The last time I went, every alternate seat was blocked off, no food or drinks were allowed inside and people had to keep their masks on all the time. Then, once the lockdowns of 2022 started, for several months there was no question of going to the cinema at all.

China has been one of the key cinema markets in the world, but over the last few years, box-office revenue has dropped significantly (as it did everywhere else).

Two key trends that may continue to impact the future though, are the reducing share of imported movies and the increased viewing habit online instead of in movie halls.

As we noted in our 2023 China Outlook report (you can get your free copy here) Chinese consumers are expressing a desire to escape stress and also may be more open to international brands, overseas travel and the world in general in months and years to come.

That should represent an opportunity for international movie producers to get back into cinemas in China and benefit from the boost as the industry revives. However, that might mean also paying attention to the home-viewing model and working out deals with the major streaming platforms in the market.

At Searchlight, we’re optimistic about China 2023. As you re-evaluate your plans and strategies for China, reach out to us on if you need advice on understanding the business opportunities and leveraging them with the right strategic choices.

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