What was the best performing UK film in China in 2020?

2020 has been a difficult year globally, although China was the first country to fully recover its film exhibition sector, its annual box-office (£2.2 billion) has dropped at least 60 % compared with 2019 (£7.2 billion). While it was hoped to be a year to break the record for cinema admissions, it turned out to be the worst in recent history, however, still in the lead globally for 2020 with the highest admission revenue.

The best grossing foreign film in China this year is US/UK production Tenet, currently ranked No.11 in the country. In total, 9 films with the UK listed as a production country have been released in China in 2020 (7 in 2019), with respect to the release of these films in China, Tenet topped the box-office in 2020. From this, 3 were re-released titles (Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, Interstellar & Inception) and most were imported under the US quota due to the nature of these productions. The total box-office made by UK films in China this year is £108.84 million.

Shanghai International Film Festival continues to be the major event that screens the highest number of UK films this year, followed by Beijing International Film Festival and Hainan Island International Film Festival. Limbo, a 2020 British comedy-drama won the top prize at the International Film Festival and Awards Macao, which marks the most significant achievement for a piece of British cinema in China this year. More UK films have been exhibited (over 100 screenings) at festivals in China than Chinese-language films at festivals in the UK.

In parallel to publishing specialised commentary about challenges and opportunities in the film industry between the two countries, the UK-China Film Collab initiated and facilitated the biggest retrospective showcase for Charlie Chaplin, in collaboration with Hainan Island International Film Festival, with support from UK based distributor Trinity CineAsia.

In this report, you will find box-office details of each released film, what films have been selected for major festivals in China as well as the number of UK titles currently available on Chinese streaming platforms.

Information about British cinema and its performance in China is not something reported regularly in both countries. We believe that more specialised and public knowledge will help film companies in the UK to understand the market in China better and in turn become more familiar with it.

Alongside other events and initiatives, the UK-China Film Collab is committed to continuing the practice in communication improvement. We will continue to share insights that are accessible to the public as a way to inspire new imagination and facilitate new possibilities.

To download our full report “UK Films in China 2020”, please click here.

Also follow our #UKfilmsinChina campaign on Twitter.

Note: This report has been updated on January 1 2021 since its first publication on December 30 2020 as the box-office figure changed slightly on the 31st.  Please refer to the latest report.