Did you know that China is home to the world's 2nd largest movie market for box office receipts, and that it's predicted to outperform the U.S., the #1 film market, by 2020? That's right! China's film market grew 36% in 2014 and 49% in 2015, though it did slump to a modest 3.7 percent in 2016. Nevertheless, as of today, China also withholds the largest number of movie screens at nearly 45,000, compared to 41,000 in the U.S. I wonder how much those numbers will grow by the end of 2017?
Furthermore, since 2012 only 34 foreign movies have been allowed into China annually on a revenue-share basis—an agreement set by China and the World Trade Organization that helps the government of some 1.4 billion people promote local consumption while limiting market access to powerhouse film industry conglomerates like Hollywood. And during the summer, foreign titles are completely banned from China's film market all together to further make way for domestic titles.
The biggest local and international box office films in China to date are Wolf Warrior 2 ($870.3 million) and The Fate of the Fast and Furious ($379 million), respectively. It just sucks to hear that American movie studios can only take home 25% of their film’s ticket earnings in China. Ouch!
Crowded Movie Theater
I wouldn't say that everyone was out to catch Justice League though; after all, other Western titles like Thor: Ragnok, Blade Runner: 2049, Murder On the Orient Express, and Patriot's Day were still out and attracting massive crowds. Despite the horde of people, the theater wasn't even nearly as packed as the cinema I visited during the release of Furious 7. Now that was a momentous movie occasion in China.
Inside the Theater
And then there’s the one thing that sucks about watching movies in China: they rarely show trailers for upcoming films. As an American, trailers play a HUGE part of what the movie experience is all about. They not only add the tease, hype, and anticipation for titles slated to release as far as a year away, but they also help invite audiences to feel more invested in film culture—knowing the actors, movie studios, all the behind-the-scenes, etc.—rather than simply seeing movies as just a quick fix of entertainment. And by the way, all the advertisements for soft drinks, cars, and service industries are getting extremely boring. Get it together China!
Watching the Movie
And yep, Justice League WAS that good for the Chinese audience. If there's one thing I've learned during my 6 years in the China it's that Chinese people love big budget, action-packed, family friendly fantasy superhero films that can produce a good laugh. And Justice League was a perfect fit.
The Flash generated a lot of those good laughs for the audience, and deservedly so. Each scene he starred in was gold. There were two comedic scenes—the group vanishing while speaking to Commissioner Gordon and Aquaman's truthful tirade after sitting on Wonder Woman's lasso—that received a few crickets, though, mostly because they were very character specific and I figure the locals just didn't understand.
Another item I believe the Chinese audience loved about Justice League was the role of Wonder Woman. Plenty of Chinese films and TV shows are often lead by women, and seeing a beautiful, passionate foreign woman (Gal Gadot) leading and kicking a** surely made a great addition to the genre typically dominated by men. In fact, Wonder Woman's grand entrance in the movie—storming into a hall full of terrorists, fending off bullets, and rescuing children—received a strong reaction from the audience, and especial from my friend.
1st Time I Ever Saw So Many People Waiting For Post Credits Scene
This time around, though, my friend stated that the tickets for Justice League contained reminders about the film having two extra post credit scenes, which was the first time I ever heard of such a thing. I wouldn't be surprised to see those types of notes on more movie tickets in the future!
Justice League is currently showing in theaters.