Women are fueling the box office in China and Hollywood needs to take notice

  • Women fuel China’s box office, according to a survey by Morning Consult. This represents a cultural shift in the country and a new entry point for Hollywood studios.
  • Although women represent less than half of the region’s population, they represent 52% of monthly moviegoers.
  • Hollywood has struggled to regain its footing in China in the wake of the pandemic, offering a glut of superhero and action films to Chinese audiences to moderate success.

Fans watch a movie at a cinema in Shanghai, China.

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Women are fueling the box office in China even though they make up a smaller percentage of the population — and Hollywood should take notice.

While women represent less than half of China’s population, they account for 52% of monthly moviegoers, according to Morning Consult, which surveyed 681 monthly moviegoers from July 21-25.

Chinese women’s higher-than-expected box office spending shows not only a cultural shift, but also a new entry point for American studios. Hollywood is struggling to regain its footing in the country after pandemic lockdowns, as China has developed its domestic film industry and limited the number of foreign films allowed in theaters. Capitalizing on this new trend of moviegoers in China may be a new strategy for Hollywood.

Morning Consult found that female audiences in China are interested in sci-fi and action films, on a par with their male counterparts, but are more interested in romantic comedies and musicals.

“I think this explains why the Barbie movie has been so successful recently in this country, as it has been in so many other places,” said Kevin Tran, senior media and entertainment analyst at Morning Consult.

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While Warner Bros. “Barbie” has only raised about $35 million so far in China, and Tran suggests that studios could look to tap into an underserved demographic in the market.

“The purchasing power of women in China has been increasing for several years,” Tan explained. “Fewer women are getting married. So, I think there’s more independence, and I think with China continuing to be a country that prioritizes traditional gender roles… there’s more time that can be devoted to entertainment and things besides home or home.” Type of care responsibilities. “It makes them able to do other things, like go to the movies, or just spend money on themselves in a way they might not have been able to do before.”

Morning Consult noted that its survey indicated that 32% of Chinese women said they went to the movies three or more times in July, compared to 27% of men.

“Given the difficulty non-domestic studios have in identifying specific cultural norms and popular culture references in China, it may make sense for American studios to invest more in Chinese productions of musicals and romantic comedies as a long-term strategy,” Tran wrote in his article. His report. “These investments will be one way to ensure that studios’ slate is balanced with the different types of typical big-budget action films they traditionally rely on for global box office success.”

Of course, Tran said Hollywood shouldn’t completely rewrite the rules of the game to cater to a country’s cinematic predilections. After all, American audiences scolded studios for changing or even cutting scenes from films in order to meet Chinese censorship rules.

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In order to distribute and screen films in China, films must be approved by regulators and can be censored if they contain content that officials deem to be inappropriate. Violates its core socialist values ​​or detracts from its national image.

Many famous films, including Marvel’s “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and ” Spider-Man: No Way” from Sony. Home,” was banned from showing in Chinese theaters.

Before the pandemic, Chinese audiences consistently accounted for about 15% to 20% of global sales for big films, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As for the recently released Marvel movie, “Guardians” of the Galaxy: Vol. 3″, ticket sales from China accounted for only 10% of the film’s total sales.

As movie theaters reopened in the wake of the pandemic, Hollywood rushed to introduce superhero and action films to Chinese audiences with moderate success. While Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” grossed more than $200 million during its theatrical run in the country, few other films have come close to that number, or even surpassed the $100 million mark.

China resumed importing Hollywood films at pre-pandemic levels this year, but ticket sales during the first half of 2023 were down nearly 70% from the same period in 2019, according to film industry advisory group Artisan Gateway.

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