China has surpassed the US for movie ticket sales for the first time, making it the world’s biggest film box office.
Sales have so far reached $1.98bn (£1.5bn) for 2020, exceeding the US total of $1.9bn, according to Asian film industry consultancy Artisan Gateway.
Analysts expect the gap to widen “considerably” by the end of the year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The change is being attributed to cinemas in the country staying open – albeit at 75% seating capacity – and China’s apparent success in containing the virus.
Its recent week-long National Day holiday also helped boost ticket sales.
Between October 1-8, the country’s cinemas sold $568m (£430m) of tickets, according to latest data.
Local blockbuster My People, My Homeland, meanwhile, made $19.1m (£14m) this past weekend – with the romance raising its earnings to $360m (£272m) after almost three weeks.
China has also produced the world’s biggest film of 2020 – Second World War drama The Eight Hundred – bringing in $460m (£348m) and counting.
Hollywood’s biggest earner is Sony’s Bad Boys for Life at $426.5m (£355m), with the US market continuing to be hit by studios pushing back releases and postponing production.
Marvel’s Black Widow and the latest James Bond film will now be released next year.
Producers of No Time To Die pushed the film back a second time to April 2021 “in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience”.
Some industry experts are also reportedly concerned that political turmoil between Washington and Beijing could damage Hollywood’s long-term position in China – the single market where film sales are on the rise again.