Despite a passionate speech by Bona Film Group COO Jiang De Fu celebrating the reopening of Hong Kong and China, it is clear that the Chinese film industry is still suffering from its version of the long COVID-19 pandemic. Income is tracking at about half the level it was in 2018.
The news outlet Variety writes on the situation. “The Chinese box office was RMB60.7 billion ($8.89 billion at current exchange rates) in 2018. And 83 films made over RMB100 million. 16 films that made over RMB1 billion. Post-pandemic, in 2022, China’s box office was RMB29.9 billion. [Just] 41 films made over RMB100 million. [And] 8 films made over RMB1 billion. We are now only at 50% of the level in 2018,” said Jiang at a presentation on the first day of Hong Kong’s FilMart.
Jiang said the 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) figure is significant because it represents the breakeven point for a medium-budget Chinese film in the 30 million yuan range. He also said that “China produces around 1,000 films a year. Those with a chance for a general theatrical release number between 300 and 400. That means that other than these 41 movies, all other films are losing money.”
According to Jiang, Bona is making internal adjustments to deal with the post-pandemic film industry, including seeking and cooperating with young writers and directors in their 30s and 40s from Hong Kong and Macau.
Jiang concluded by quoting newly-appointed Chinese premier Li Qiang, who warned that government agencies “should not just slam on the brakes, but also hit the accelerator” to get through the crisis. According to Jean, this also applies to the film industry.