It was bound to happen eventually, but that moment that nationalist, American patriot film-goers dreaded is finally here. The North American box office is now no longer the most profitable box office in the world. The honor is now bestowed upon China. Cue the tears of people who somehow care about that.
I wasn’t going to bother spending time trying to figure out how this happened because the answer should be fairly obvious, but for those screaming to the heavens how this is at all possible deserve some clarity. Given that the coronavirus has all but decimated traditional theaters, who have had their total grosses eviscerated by upwards of 80%, China is in a far better position than the US is in at reigning in the coronavirus. It’s pretty obvious from recent box office results, and from some theater chain’s business tactics, that North American theaters are struggling to keep the lights on for another week, while at least Chinese theaters are getting new and highly desirable releases.
This past weekend, in part due to Chinese releases like My People, My Homeland, The Story of Xi Bao, and Legend of Deification, China has roughly taken in $1.99 billion at the box office in 2020 as opposed to North America’s $1.94 billion. I know that may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but keep in mind that these numbers come off the heels of the worst year in films most likely ever, with hardly anyone making money off of theatrical releases. Companies are running scared from theaters, and with good reason since movies like Tenet released to test the waters only to now die a slow and painful death.
I’m unsure if this is a trend that we’re going to see continue as the virus continues to run its course and make life miserable for everyone involved. The Chinese market is incredibly viable and companies are salivating to lay claim to it, but whether or not China will continue to be the focal point of international cinema will be determined by how quickly the United States can control the spread of the coronavirus.