China Cinema Digest – Thursday 13 August 2015

By | August 13, 2015 3:06 am PDT

Hong Kong-listed exhibitor Stellar Media International (SMI) recently issued securities (i.e. debt notes) backed by future ticket sales to fund its expansion. This is the first time funds have been raised this way in China. It is also a terrible way of building a war-chest to overtake Wanda. Yes, the China cinema market will continue to grow but no guarantee that it will achieve the high returns of past years, particularly as exhibitors move into smaller and poorer urban markets. Cinema attendance will also nose-dive when the next avian flu outbreak happens in China. Sound far fetched? Cinema ticket sales fell 54.9% in neighbouring South Korea in the first week of June this year after the outbreak of the MERS virus. And that was a relatively limited epidemic. Want China Times – 10 August 2015

Chinese exhibitors’ own cinema loyalty cards are being pushed out of fashion by commerce apps like Cat’s Eye and Guevara. Cinema loyalty card usage is estimated to have fallen to less than 30%, according to Beijing Chinese Commercial News reporters Tong Guozou and Fang Duojia. Cinema loyalty cards in China are typically topped up by a fixed cash amount in advance, but they often don’t permit advance seat reservation and do not discount tickets as steeply as third-party ticketing platforms. Beijing Daily – 7 August 2015

Mtime logo

NYT has an in-depth article profiling Mtime, the Chinese app that is effectively Fandango, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo Movies all-in-one, which Hollywood studios are increasingly turning to for promoting their films. The app has now expanded to merchandising, selling no less than 300 items tied to Dinsey/Marvel’s “Avengers”. More proof that Chinese cinemas are increasingly O-2-O (Online-to-offline) operations. New York Times – Brooks Barnes & Amy Qin – 9 August 2015

Jackie Chan Cinemas has selected AAM’s Screenwriter Theatre Management System (TMS) to run their operations. The system will be deployed across over 200 screens, including China’s highest BO cinema (see this week’s last item). Arts Alliance Media – Press Release – 12 August 2015

Korea’s CJ CGV continues its strong growth path in China and is expected to be the fifth-largest exhibitor by the end of 2015. Having opened its first multiplex in 2006 it is on course to open its 50th in September this year. Korea Times – 3 August 2015

Speculations about Wanda Cinema Line acquiring World Theatre exhibitor, which has a 0.73% market share, which with Wanda’s 13.2% would take Wanda up to 14% of China’s BO. World Theatre was six multiplexes each in tier-two and tier-three cities. Shanghai ICP – Gu Yingqi – 3 August 2015

Pancake Man

China’s box office may be booming and domestic films setting records, but that has not translated into success for Chinese films abroad. Domestic BO champion “Pancake Man” played in just 19 cinemas in North America, mostly in Chinese enclaves, 13 of which were Wanda-owned AMC (Wanda also co-financed the film). Monterey Park’s AMC sold just 3,800 tickets for a total box office of USD $42,802 in its opening weekend. QQ Ent – Zhuangao – 2 October 2015

AMC’s shares have been sliding 5.4%, down to a session low- of USD $28.10, as a knock-on effect from China. “Though company hasn’t issued any press releases today, and Wall Street has been quiet on the exhibitor, selling pressure may be building up due to a devaluation of the Chinese currency which could change the way owner Dalian Wanda sets strategy for AMC.” Seeking Alpha – Clark Shultz – 11 August 2015

Micro-cinema China

A sign that micro-theatres are becoming big business in China when you start to see chains of over a hundred sites emerging. Movies Tai Chi has over 200 private cinemas all over China, while Biwei As has 346 micro-theatres and Amy 1895 Film Street has 20 open, 20 under construction and 200 in total planned for 2016. HD AV China – 5 August 2015

Want a list of the Top 100 cinemas in China and their takings? Win Business Network has the full list. A Jackie Chan Cinema tops it. Win Shan – 5 October 2015

Patrick von Sychowski
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Patrick von Sychowski

Patrick was a Senior Analyst at Screen Digest, went on to launch the digital cinema operations of Unique and Deluxe Europe, then digitised Bollywood at Adlabs/RMW, and now writes, consults and appears on panels about cinema all over the world.
Patrick von Sychowski
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