Corona pandemic: China overtakes the United States at the box office

Corona pandemic
China overtakes the United States at the box office

As in many other countries, numerous cinemas are still closed in the USA – like here in New York City.

© beka venezia /

Because of the Corona crisis, many cinemas were closed for a long time in 2020. For the first time, China has therefore overtaken the USA in the competitive market.

The Corona crisis is leaving its mark in many industries in the form of severe sales losses. "The Hollywood Reporter" now presents the first figures from the cinema business, which are not surprising, but still shocking. Accordingly, the industry recorded a drop in sales of more than 70 percent worldwide. China emerges as the only winner.

The industry journal relies on Comscore estimates and puts the total global revenue in 2020 at around 12 billion US dollars (10 billion euros). For comparison: in 2019 the number was still 42.5 billion US dollars (35 billion euros). The market collapsed a whopping 72 percent within a year.

Historic sales low in the USA

In the USA, where many cinemas have been closed for almost nine months, revenues even fell by as much as 80 percent and dropped to their lowest level in around 40 years. Between January and December 2020, the movie theaters there only recorded total sales of around 2.3 billion US dollars (1.9 billion euros). In the previous year it was 11.4 billion US dollars (9.3 billion euros).

A clear winner of the Corona crisis in the highly competitive cinema market, however, is the People's Republic of China, where the first Corona case occurred at the end of 2019. The annual turnover there – despite a drop of 70 percent – amounts to almost 2.7 billion US dollars (2.2 billion euros), with which the country overtakes the film nation USA as the most successful cinema market in the world for the first time in history.

China's "The Eight Hundred" is the world's most successful film

China, whose cinema industry quickly recovered after the hard lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic year, can also boast the world's best-selling film in 2020. "The Eight Hundred", an epic about the Second World War by director Guan Hu (52), brought in around 440 million US dollars (363 million euros). In addition, "My People, My Homeland", also a film from the densely populated state in eastern Asia, placed high on the list of successes.

Of the few Hollywood blockbusters whose theatrical releases were not postponed due to the pandemic, "Bad Boys for Life" emerged as the annual commercial winner. The action sequel with Will Smith (52) and Martin Lawrence (55) in the lead roles started in January and rushed around 413 million US dollars (340 million euros) into the coffers. "1917" also started in January and generated 385 million US dollars (317 million euros).

"Tenet" is a success despite the pandemic

"Tenet", the first blockbuster from the dream factory, which hit the cinemas after the outbreak of the pandemic, surprisingly brought it to an impressive 362 million US dollars (298 million euros). Much of this amount, however, is likely to have been generated outside the United States. Unlike there, the corona situation at the time of the cinema release at the end of August was comparatively relaxed in Germany, for example.


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