Hollywood is making the case that the growing popularity of U.S. films in China is a boon to both countries.
The Motion Picture Assn. of America, the major studios' top lobbyist, announced Monday that a new study it commissioned reveals that China's film and television industry contributed $15.5 billion to its economy in 2011 and supported 909,000 jobs. The industry generated tax revenues of $3.4 billion, the study found.
Those gaudy numbers are particularly impressive given that they come before the country loosened restrictions on the number of foreign films it allows to screen in China. In April 2012, China announced that it was raising quotas on foreign releases from 20 to 34 a year.
The study was prepared by Oxford Economics and measures the entertainment industry's contribution to China's GDP, taxes and employment levels. The report was also commissioned by the China Film Distributors and Exhibitors Association (CFDEA).
Last year, China demonstrated its box office heft by surpassing Japan to be the second largest market for Hollywood films. In total, China contributed $2.7 billion in box office revenue in 2012, a 36 percent jump from the previous year.
China's growth has been seismic. Total box office revenues grew more than three-and-a-half times between 2006 and 2011, the study found, as China invested heavily in constricting new movie palaces to exhibit 3D and IMAX titles.
To that end, the study's authors found that there were roughly 9,300 screens in China in 2011, a 48 percent hike from the previous year. That figure is roughly five times the number of screens China had a decade ago.
Not that there aren't sources of friction. In particular, Chinese authorities have demonstrated a willingness to open major releases such as "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" against each other as a way of protecting their own home-grown product. Likewise, Chinese censors have proved difficult to navigate, abruptly canceling the Chinese premiere of "Django Unchained" the month, reportedly over concerns about the film's violence.