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Sluggish China Box Office Brings Down 2016’s Global Totals

Variety logo Variety 1/25/2017 Brent Lang

Publicly, studio executives tend to be a rosy bunch, predicting that each year’s crop of movies will be better than that which preceded it. But behind closed doors, few in the business were expecting much from 2016.

When the final numbers are tallied, the global box office will probably fall short of last year’s record-breaking $38.9 billion. Most observers expect ticket sales to fall roughly 2% to just over $38 billion. That decline is reason for some alarm, particularly as the shortfall is largely attributable to a slowdown in China. After years of explosive growth, in which returns were expanding at a 40% clip annually, revenue in China was essentially flat in 2016 — a disappointment for the world’s second-largest film market, which had been expected to surpass the U.S. in terms of revenue in a matter of months.

“As China goes, so goes the international marketplace,” notes Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore.

There are worries that Donald Trump’s presidency could have a further chilling effect. Trump has been a proponent of stricter tariffs on foreign goods and has often cast China as an adversary.

“Who knows what our trade policies will be like in a year?” Dergarabedian asks.

If Trump is true to his word, there could be some type of retaliation from China at a time when Hollywood is increasingly reliant on Chinese financing and viewership. In particular, there are concerns about a move toward tighter restrictions on the number of U.S. films that are allowed to screen in the country.

But many studio executives remain bullish on the long-term prospects of Sino-Tinseltown relations.

“In China, there has been a slowdown off a base of massive growth, but it’s still the biggest of the markets where we or any studio does business, and it will still be on pace to displace the U.S. in box office, though maybe not as quickly as people thought,” says Dave Hollis, Disney’s global distribution chief.

China aside, there is a sense that 2016 could have been worse. “Deadpool” and “Zootopia” were blockbusters that few saw coming. And while “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Finding Dory” weren’t hits on the level of 2015 smashes such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Jurassic World,” they resonated with global audiences.

“If you look at the slate last year, it played pretty well,” says Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “The numbers would suggest there might be a modest decline in attendance, but the movie business is still holding in quite well.”

Across the globe, the story was one of slowdowns, stall-outs, and surges. Spain began to rebound after tough economic times, with ticket sales rising 5%, and France had its second-best performance in 50 years. Yet other major markets had problems: Revenue fell by double digits in Germany, and growth stalled in South Korea.

In some cases, the declines can be chalked up to weaker local product. In others, the studio blockbusters didn’t excite as they had in previous years. (Studios point to parts of Asia and Latin America as regions in which Hollywood products are still finding a warm reception.) There were also currency headaches; a strong U.S. dollar meant that Europe and Russia failed to contribute as much to the returns of major blockbusters as they once did.

Still, there is optimism, fueled by a look at the slate for 2017, which will see sequels to “Star Wars,” “Transformers,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Fast and the Furious,” “Despicable Me,” “Spider-Man,” and “Cars.” This Murderers’ Row has left analysts like Dergarabedian reaching for the perfect metaphor to encapsulate the moneymaking on the horizon.

“I call it the 100-year flood of movies,” he says.

Domestic Top 100 of 2016
RANKTITLE/DISTRIBDOMESTIC B.O.
1.Finding Dory/Disney$486,295,561
2.Rogue One … */Disney$408,235,850
3.Captain America: Civil War/Disney$408,084,349
4.The Secret Life of Pets/U$368,384,330
5.The Jungle Book/Disney$364,001,123
6.Deadpool/Fox$363,070,709
7.Zootopia/Disney$341,268,248
8.Batman v Superman … /WB$330,360,194
9.Suicide Squad/WB$325,100,054
10.Star Wars: The Force …†/Disney$284,694,956
11.Doctor Strange*/Disney$229,876,337
12.Fantastic Beasts …*/WB$222,675,573
13.Moana*/Disney$206,477,478
14.The Revenant†/Fox$182,765,375
15.Jason Bourne/U$162,434,410
16.Star Trek Beyond/Par$158,848,340
17.X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox$155,442,489
18.Sing*/U$152,853,995
19.Trolls*/Fox$150,130,292
20.Kung Fu Panda 3/Fox$143,528,619
21.Ghostbusters/Sony$128,344,089
22.Central Intelligence/WB$127,440,871
23.The Legend of Tarzan/WB$126,643,061
24.Sully*/WB$124,976,335
25.Bad Moms/STX$113,257,297
26.The Angry Birds Movie/Sony$107,506,776
27.Independence Day: Resurgence/Fox$103,144,286
28.The Conjuring 2/WB$102,470,008
29.Sausage Party/Sony$97,661,826
30.The Magnificent Seven/Sony$93,420,253
31.Arrival*/Par$91,676,099
32.Ride Along 2/U$91,221,830
33.Don’t Breathe/Sony$89,208,468
34.Miss Peregrine’s Home … */Fox$86,945,137
35.The Accountant/WB/STX$85,856,696
36.Daddy’s Home†/Par$85,672,859
37.Teenage Mutant … Shadows/Par$82,051,601
38.The Purge: Election Year/U$79,213,375
39.Alice … Looking Glass/Disney$77,041,381
40.Pete’s Dragon/Disney$76,233,151
41.The Girl on the Train/U$75,395,035
42.Tyler Perry’s Boo! … /Lionsgate$73,206,343
43.Storks/WB$72,414,850
44.10 Cloverfield Lane/Par$72,082,998
45.Lights Out/WB$67,268,835
46.Divergent … Allegiant/Lionsgate$66,184,051
47.Now You See Me 2/Lionsgate$65,075,540
48.Hacksaw Ridge*/Lionsgate$64,463,214
49.Ice Age: Collision Course/Fox$64,063,008
50.The Boss/U$63,285,885
51.London Has Fallen/Focus $62,524,260
52.Miracles From Heaven/Sony$61,693,523
53.Deepwater Horizon/Lionsgate$61,433,527
54.10 Cloverfield Lane/Par$59,689,605
55.Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/Par$58,546,937
56.Me Before You/WB$56,245,075
57.The BFG/Disney$55,483,770
58.Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising/U$55,455,765
59.Passengers*/Sony$55,380,209
60.The Shallows/Sony$55,121,623
61.Barbershop: The Next Cut/WB$54,030,051
62.Office Christmas Party*/Par$52,853,219
63.Deepwater Horizon/Lionsgate$49,815,176
64.The Huntsman: Winter’s War/U$48,390,190
65.Kubo and the Two Strings/Focus $48,023,088
66.Warcraft/U$47,365,290
67.How to Be Single/WB$46,843,513
68.The Big Short†/Par$46,264,692
69.Mike and Dave Need … Dates/Fox$46,009,673
70.War Dogs/WB$43,034,523
71.Almost Christmas/U$41,964,925
72.Money Monster/Sony$41,008,532
73.The Hateful Eight†/Weinstein$40,778,206
74.Allied*/Par$39,541,921
75.Nerve/Lionsgate$38,583,626
76.Sisters†/U$37,921,265
77.Risen/Sony$36,874,745
78.Assassin’s Creed*/Fox$36,415,167
79.The Nice Guys/WB$36,261,763
80.The Boy/STX$35,819,556
81.Dirty Grandpa/Lionsgate$35,593,113
82.Ouija: Origin of Evil/U$35,144,505
83.The 5th Wave/Sony$34,912,982
84.Inferno*/Sony$34,221,651
85.Mother’s Day/Open Road$32,492,859
86.Gods of Egypt/Lionsgate$31,153,464
87.La La Land*/Lionsgate$30,980,271
88.Why Him?*/Fox$30,633,916
89.Hail, Caesar!/U$30,498,085
90.Alvin and the … Road Chip†/Fox$30,311,560
91.When the Bough Breaks/Sony$29,740,655
92.Zoolander 2/Par$28,848,693
93.Joy†/Fox$28,141,138
94.The Finest Hours/Disney$27,569,558
95.Florence Foster Jenkins/Par$27,383,770
96.Manchester by the Sea*/Roadside$27,053,638
97.Hell or High Water/Lionsgate$27,007,844
98.The Forest/Focus$26,594,261
99.Ben-Hur/Par$26,410,477
100.Fences*/Par$26,330,971
*Still in release †2015 release; B.O. for 2016 only Source: comScore
Overseas Top 100 of 2016
RANKTITLE/COUNTRY OF ORIGIN IF NOT US/DISTRIBUTOR‡DOMESTIC B.O.
1.Captain America: Civil War/Disney $706,890,721
2.Zootopia/Disney$661,089,557
3.The Jungle Book/Disney$583,232,229
4.Finding Dory/Disney$533,262,286
5.Mei Ren Yu (The Mermaid)≈/China/Sony$527,747,712
6.Fantastic Beasts … Find Them*/WB$525,438,290
7.Batman v Superman … Justice/WB $501,703,375
8.The Secret Life of Pets/U $496,435,072
9.Doctor Strange/Disney $406,091,746
10.Deadpool/Fox$399,221,524
11.Suicide Squad/WB$377,788,370
12.Rogue One: A Star Wars Story*/Disney$368,200,066
13.Warcraft/U$367,716,567
14.X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox $361,889,064
15.Kung Fu Panda 3/Fox$358,066,215
16.The Revenant†/Fox$332,986,761
17.Ice Age: Collision Course/Fox$329,055,753
18.Your Name≈/Japan/Funimation$316,217,502
19.Star Wars: The Force Awakens†/Disney $304,930,719
20.Independence Day: Resurgence/Fox $274,089,439
21.Now You See Me 2/Lionsgate$260,582,570
22.Jason Bourne/U$244,009,300
23.The Angry Birds Movie/Sony$233,952,873
24.Alice Through the … Glass/Disney$216,829,835
25.The Legend of Tarzan/WB $199,214,394
26.Moana*/Disney$194,527,863
27.Miss Peregrine’s … Children/Fox $188,182,975
28.The Monkey King 2≈/China/China Lion$185,817,720
29.Bridget Jones’s Baby/UK-Ireland/U $185,045,005
30.The Conjuring 2/WB $184,392,860
31.Inferno/Sony$178,253,470
32.… Vegas to Macau III≈/HK/Asia Releasing $175,954,957
33.Trolls/Fox $175,922,688
34.Operation Mekong≈/China/Well Go USA$173,137,278
35.Star Trek Beyond/Par$170,042,178
36.The Great Wall*/U $157,845,108
37.Time Raiders≈/China/Asia Releasing $145,721,484
38.Teenage Mutant Ninja … Shadows/Par $144,477,961
39.Me Before You/WB $141,746,431
40.The BFG≈/Disney$140,981,043
41.Skiptrace≈/Multiple$134,345,427
42.Ip Man 3†≈/HK/Well Go USA $130,772,602
43.London Has Fallen≈/UK-Ireland/Focus $130,536,484
44.Alvin and the … Road Chip†/Fox $119,379,748
45.… Mr. Right 2≈/China/Asia Releasing$118,903,184
46.I Belonged to You≈/China/China Lion$117,556,929
47.Gods of Egypt/Lionsgate$112,973,396
48.The Huntsman: Winter’s War/U$112,667,823
49.Cold War 2≈/HK/Well Go USA $111,364,991
50.Train to Busan≈/S.Korea/Well Go USA$111,192,504
51.Divergent Series: Allegiant/Lionsgate $109,492,675
52.Sing*/U$105,084,799
53.Storks*/WB$101,364,223
54.Sully*/WB$99,532,910
55.Mechanic: Resurrection/Lionsgate$96,757,505
56.Ghostbusters/Sony$95,947,461
57.The Girl on the Train/U$94,781,280
58.The Hateful Eight†/Weinstein$93,961,269
59.Line Walker≈/HK/Asia Releasing$90,627,572
60.Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/Par$83,627,558
61.Big Fish & Begonia≈/China/Multiple$81,827,374
62.Central Intelligence/WB$81,500,697
63.Hacksaw Ridge*≈/Australia/Lionsgate$80,116,472
64.The Good Dinosaur†/Disney$79,597,976
65.Shin Godzilla≈/Japan/Funimation $79,277,989
66.Railroad Tigers*≈/China/Well Go USA$78,511,934
67.The 5th Wave /Sony$70,994,942
68.Passengers*/Sony$70,138,668
69.Lights Out/WB$68,532,157
70.Detective … Nightmare≈/Japan/Multiple$67,303,533
71.I Am Not … Bovary≈/China/Well Go USA$67,292,317
72.One Piece Film: Gold≈/Japan/Funimation$66,589,094
73.Bad Moms/STX$64,558,312
74.Sultan≈/India/Yash Raj$64,465,705
75.See You Tomorrow≈/HK/Multiple$64,012,279
76.Violent Prosecutor≈/S. Korea/Dreamwest$63,592,088
77.Pete’s Dragon/Disney$63,023,710
78.Don’t Breathe/Sony$62,963,391
79.The Magnificent Seven/Sony$62,340,975
80.How to Be Single/WB$60,630,428
81.The Shallows/Sony$59,901,171
82.Ben-Hur/Par$58,673,155
83.Dirty Grandpa≈/Lionsgate$57,615,154
84.Arrival*/Par$56,857,296
85.Age of Shadows (Mil Jeong)≈/S. Korea/CJ$56,030,036
86.L.O.R.D: Legend of … /China/Lionsgate$55,254,999
87.The Accountant/WB$54,640,759
88.Chongqing Hot Pot≈/China/China Lion$54,196,084
89.Deepwater Horizon/Lionsgate$53,851,477
90.The Big Short†/Par$53,754,850
91.Chinese Odyssey … End≈/China/Multiple$52,890,135
92.Tunnel≈/S. Korea/Well Go USA$52,431,558
93.Doraemon: Nobita and … ≈/Japan/Multiple$51,991,295
94.Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising/U$51,277,247
95.Luck-Key≈/S. Korea/Dreamwest$50,318,046
96.Daddy’s Home†/Par$49,827,001
97.Money Monster/Sony$49,769,015
98.The Bodyguard≈/China/Multiple$49,521,624
99.Spotlight†≈/Open Road$49,211,690
100.Operation Chromite≈/S. Korea/CJ$48,815,605

*Still in release †release in 2015; B.O. for 2016 only ‡USA Distributor or multiple distributors ≈Unofficial Cume Source: comScore/td>

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