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更新时间:2017-7-15 9:38:15 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why Hollywood Is Relying on China to Halt a Box Office Slide

LOS ANGELES — All year, Hollywood executives have been brushing aside worries about box-office stagnation in the United States and Canada by pointing to strong ticket sales in China.


Ticket sales for imported films in China are up 34 percent this year, to roughly $2.3 billion, according to the Beijing research firm EntGroup. Look at Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight.” That sequel managed only $45 million in its opening weekend in North America, but it took in $120 million in China.

据北京研究公司艺恩咨询统计,今年进口电影票房增长了34%,达到23亿美元左右。比如派拉蒙(Paramount)的《变形金刚:最后的骑士》(Transformers: The Last Knight)在北美首周末的票房是4500万美元,但在中国却高达1.2亿美元。

On closer look, however, the rosy picture doesn’t quite hold up, underscoring why Hollywood has recently been pushing so hard for film-related concessions from the Chinese government.


New data from comScore, a Virginia-based analytics firm, indicates that Hollywood is having a tough time in China. From Jan. 1 to June 30, Chinese cinemas played 24 movies from Hollywood, generating $1.76 billion in ticket sales. In the same period a year earlier, the country let in 22 Hollywood movies, which collected about $1.73 billion.


That is a 1.7 percent increase — a far shot from 35 percent, the figure for all imported movies. Films from countries other than the United States made up the difference. One was “Dangal,” a Bollywood drama (partly financed by an Indian subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company) that collected a runaway $191 million in China in May.


Over all, box-office revenue in China totaled $3.7 billion in the first six months of the year, up 2 percent, an alarmingly low growth rate compared with what the market has delivered in the recent past. The slowdown is one reason the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the six biggest Hollywood studios, recently hired an accounting firm to audit the box-office figures reported by Chinese theaters.

总的来说,中国的票房收入在今年前六个月达到了37亿美元,同比增长了2%,但与该市场过去的发展速度相比,这个增幅小得惊人。由于这种放缓和其他一些原因,美国电影协会(Motion Picture Association of America)最近代表好莱坞六大电影公司聘请了一家会计师事务所,核查中国影院汇报的票房数字。

Any uptick is positive, of course, but Hollywood is counting on China to deliver box-office gains that are substantially higher. In North America, ticket sales for the summer are down 8 percent, compared with the same period in 2016, according to comScore; box-office revenue for the year to date is flat. Analysts have been downgrading multiplex stocks as a result; Cinemark got that treatment on Sunday from RBC Capital Markets.

任何上涨当然都是好事,但好莱坞指望在中国获得远远更高的票房收益。据comScore统计,与2016年同期相比,北美今年夏季的票房收入下降了8%;今年迄今为止,票房收入基本持平。分析师因此调低了影院股票的评级,喜满客影城(Cinemark)上周日就被加拿大皇家资本市场(RBC Capital Markets)调低了评级。

So as they scratch for growth, studios like 20th Century Fox and Universal have been scrambling to position themselves as bigger players in China, where the number of movie screens has increased to more than 40,600 from 12,407 in 2012. The accounting firm PwC recently estimated that China would have roughly 80,377 screens by 2021 — double the number in the United States.

因此,为了努力求得增长,20世纪福克斯(20th Century Fox)和环球影业(Universal)这样的制片厂争相扩大在中国市场的影响力,中国电影屏幕数量从2012年的12407块增加到超过40600块。会计师事务所普华永道(PwC)近期估计,到2021年,中国大约会有80377块屏幕,是美国的两倍。

Some Hollywood offerings have done very well in China this year. “A Dog’s Purpose,” made by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, collected a strong $88.2 million; in comparison, it took in $64 million in North America, which remains the world’s No. 1 movie market. Sony’s “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” collected about $160 million in China; it managed only about $26.8 million in North America.

今年有部分好莱坞电影在中国票房成绩很好。史蒂文·斯皮尔伯格(Steven Spielberg)的安倍林公司(Amblin Partners)出品的《一条狗的使命》(A Dog’s Purpose)在中国劲收8820万美元,相比之下,它在世界最大电影市场北美的票房为6400万美元。索尼的《生化危机:终章》(Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)在中国的票房收入约1.6亿美元,而在北美仅为2680万美元。

At the same time, however, Hollywood suffered a parade of duds in China, including “The Lego Batman Movie,” “Sing,” “Power Rangers” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Even “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” did only so-so. And after that initial box-office pop, “Transformers: The Last Knight” fell off a cliff.

不过,也有一些好莱坞作品在中国受挫,比如《乐高蝙蝠侠大电影》(The Lego Batman Movie)、《欢乐好声音》(Sing)、《超凡战队》(Power Rangers)和《亚瑟王传奇:斗兽争霸》(King Arthur: Legend of the Sword),甚至是《星球大战外传:侠盗一号》(Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)的票房都很一般。而且《变形金刚:最后的骑士》的票房在经历了一开始的火爆之后,也出现了严重下滑。

But analysts say studios are facing systemic challenges in the country, including a slowing overall economy. Chinese moviegoers are also growing more discerning; film quality is increasingly important. Movie theaters in China may also be hurt as streaming services proliferate. More than 80 million people in the country now pay to watch video online, a 32 percent increase from last year, according to Analysys, a Beijing research firm.


“People just don’t have time to go to theaters,” Zhang Zhao, chief executive of Le Vision Pictures, a subsidiary of the financially troubled Chinese tech company LeEco, said at a conference in Shanghai last month. (On the plus side, some Hollywood studios are benefiting from selling content to streaming services like iQiyi and Youku Tudou.)


Difficulties at the Chinese box office come as Hollywood presses Beijing to loosen its restrictions on imported films. Under an expiring five-year deal, China annually allows 34 new overseas movies to play in its theaters. Although Chinese regulators have quietly inched that number higher, Hollywood studios want an expanded quota formalized and have asked for at least 50 slots.


American movie executives are also pushing for shorter blackout periods, which China uses to promote local films, and longer marketing windows; under the current setup, Hollywood studios are given only about a month to mount advertising campaigns for their movies.


“That’s probably going to happen,” Mr. Rosen said, referring to more advance notice. (China controls the release dates.)


Hollywood also wants to receive a bigger portion of ticket sales. Studios receive about 50 percent of box-office revenue in the United States, but China allows foreign companies to receive only a 25 percent cut. Studios have asked for closer to 40 percent.


Mr. Rosen said negotiations over revised film terms, taking place between Chinese officials and the Office of the United States Trade Representative, could drag into next year.


“I would be very, very surprised if anything was in place related to Hollywood before that,” Mr. Rosen said.