While you weren’t looking, animated fantasy epic Monster Hunt snuck into the top place at the Chinese box office, posting 2.428bn yuan (£247m) in receipts. It was also the fastest film to hit 1bn yuan. Part of the success of the film is definitely due to the unofficial blackout period, where the Chinese government keeps the box office free of foreign films (take that, free market!) so it was virtually without competition. But partly the niche marketing strategy has worked wonders: “Monster Hunt” focussed on second and third-tier cities such as regional capitals, pumping up demand with beautiful artwork and with local / regional press conferences and shindigs, encouraging engagement with the film. According to data research group Entgroup, audiences in first-tier cities, such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, accounted for only 19.1 percent of the total audience – that’s down about 5-6% compared to other releases.
Incidentally, they’re now saying that China will become the world’s most lucrative market by 2018 already, a full two years ahead of all previous predictions. How this might change Hollywood is discussed here.