The Chinese people comprise the fastest-growing animation market in the world. With a total population exceeding 1.3 billion individuals, potentially 500 million people in mainland China can be identified as animation consumers.
Mainland China’s total 2010 box office is estimated at more than 10 billion RMB (approximately $1.5 billion USD), up over 60% from 2009 (which itself saw a 44% growth rate), and is one of the largest markets in the world. Taiwan’s 2010 box office total is estimated at $96 million USD (about 7% the size of the mainland market), and is dominated by Hollywood films.
There are currently just over 6,200 movie screens on the Chinese mainland, compared with more than 42,000 in the United States. Mainland China produced over 500 films in 2010, but few of these make it to theaters and China’s box office is still relatively small compared to North America’s. At present, 31 cities – each with at least 1 million residents – are without commercial movie theaters, presenting a major opportunity for growth. Three movie screens are being built each day in mainland China.
China’s current 6,000+ screen total includes more than 1,000 3D screens, making it the second-largest 3D market in the world after the United States. At the current rate of growth the number of 3D screens in mainland China is anticipated to equal the number of 2D screens in three years
Mainland China is currently the world’s largest internet market by user, and poised to be one of the world’s largest VOD markets. Legitimate DVD is a sparse revenue stream due to piracy, and China still only shares revenues with 20 foreign film imports per year.
For more on the Chinese movie market and film industry, here is a great primer by Jeffrey Hays.