Recovery is possible!

China has become the first global market to achieve all five stages of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery – a level that would indicate full box office recovery. The target had been achieved in the week commencing August 21 by the end of Tuesday, with two days of box office still to come!

The Stage 5 target requires a week with an equivalent performance to those in the top quartile of weekly business in the past two years. To achieve this China needed to generate a weekly box office of ¥1.267 billion. According to data from our partners at Comscore Movies, China required just 5 days of the August 21 play-week to hit this important target, with ¥1.308 billion ($189m) taken to the end of Tuesday. Tuesday alone generated over ¥500 million.

Figures for the full week are expected to exceed ¥1.7 billion. This would be at least 18% bigger than the equivalent play-week in 2019 (week commencing Aug. 23), which grossed ¥1.439 billion. Only 8 Chinese play-weeks in 2019 delivered a box office of ¥1.7 billion or higher.

Box office for the current play-week to Wednesday (Aug. 25) already accounts for nearly a third of all 2020 box office taken in China. THE EIGHT HUNDRED alone has accounted for 27% of Chinese box office in 2020 through Wednesday (Aug. 26) since its opening.

Two local blockbusters are primarily responsible for driving the result. War epic THE EIGHT HUNDRED first opened last Monday (Aug. 17), with its first four days in the market taking China past the Stage 3 target in the August 14-20 play-week. It then went on to deliver a mammoth traditional 3-day opening weekend of ¥556.2 million ($80.4m) this week. On Tuesday (Aug. 25) another local title launched at #1 in the market, with romantic fantasy LOVE YOU FOREVER released for China’s Qixi Festival (the Chinese equivalent to Valentine’s Day). The film grossed over ¥272 million ($39m) on the festival day. THE EIGHT HUNDRED added another ¥186 million ($27m) the same day. Further support came from another Tuesday-opener, local romantic drama WILD GRASS with ¥37 million ($5.3m).

What makes this all the more remarkable is that China has achieved all five stages of recovery just five weeks after re-opening.

China is currently tracking 89.5% behind the same stage of 2019, following the 6 month closure. China’s total box office so far in 2020 is roughly equivalent to the top grossing title of 2019: THE WANDERING EARTH (¥4.6bn). However, this tracking data is a notable improvement on where the market stood upon re-opening, with China 94% behind 2019 on July 19.

Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery proposes five growth targets to measure a market’s progress toward recovery. Of the four box office targets (the Stage 1 target looks at market share of open cinemas), the first two are based on a market achieving a base level with a box office day (Stage 2) and week (Stage 3) equal to the lowest day and week from the previous two years.

Stage 4 (an equivalent to the median box office week of the past two years – a ¥985 million target in China) was also achieved on Tuesday.

The Blueprint To Recovery is designed to show what progress toward recovery is being achieved in different markets and regions around the world. This can serve as a guide to those markets following, as well as provide crucial information for the future should other crises arise. As each stage is hit it also shows that recovery is possible.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Netherlands and the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island have all achieved their Stage 3 targets. Numerous other territories, US states and Canadian provinces have achieved Stage 2.

It is hoped that the international and Canadian launch of Warner Bros’ TENET this weekend will help other markets to achieve new growth targets.