Among the top ten movies in China in 2018 were six domestic productions, most of which outperformed U.S. releases ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Venom’, ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ at the Chinese box office. ‘Detective Chinatown 2’ and ‘Operation Red Sea’ even made the ranking of highest grossing movies worldwide, beating award-winning hit ‘A Star Is Born’ at the global box office. China’s cinema has a long and complex history. This has included films being used as propaganda throughout the communist revolution and their subsequent banning during the cultural revolution, increased prominence of Chinese cinema abroad beginning in the 1980s and the release of globally renowned movies such as ‘House of Flying Daggers’ in 2004. Debates surrounding the future of the Chinese movie industry and its potential impact on Hollywood are circulating, alongside concerns about propaganda, censorship and how U.S. collaborations with China in cinema should and could be handled.
Meanwhile, away from the chaotic commercialism of Hollywood, Bollywood and Mainland China lies Nollywood, the sometimes overlooked but increasingly successful and highly productive Nigerian film industry. In 2017, box office revenue in Nigeria amounted to 12 million U.S. dollars, almost double the figure for 2013. In 2022, revenues are expected to increase to 18 million dollars, and Netflix’s recent involvement with Nollywood has afforded film fans perhaps previously unaware of Nigerian cinema the opportunity to explore and enjoy movies such as Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ and Niyi Akinmolayan’s ‘Chief Daddy’.
It is not just movies themselves, no matter how carefully crafted, which draw in box office revenue. The right star with a large enough following still has the power to drive ticket sales. Chris Hemsworth was the highest grossing actor in the world based on box office results in 2018, with two billion U.S. dollars of revenue generated through his movies. Hollywood A-listers Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson also brought in impressive revenues, along with Amber Heard, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson (also known as The Rock).
The key takeaway from exploring data on the global box office, and by extension the movie industry, is that Hollywood remains the firm leader in this regard – but challenges and changes are afoot. Whilst India has been in the habit of producing thousands of movies annually for several years and European countries have remained relatively stable in their output, this is not the case with every market. The number of movies produced in China rose dramatically from 402 in 2007 to well over one thousand in 2018, and South Korea increased its number of productions by more than 3.5 times during the same time period. By comparison, just 576 movies were produced in the U.S. in 2018, and whilst the amount of movies in theaters does not necessarily translate to higher revenues, the U.S. will need to increase its output in years to come if it is to maintain its stronghold over the movie industry.