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China Surpasses The U.S. In Movie Ticket Sales For 1st Time

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In a first, China has overtaken North America as the world's movie box office champ. NPR's Bob Mondello has details.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: With 1.4 billion citizens and a thriving film industry, China was bound to outpace Hollywood at some point. A worldwide pandemic has accelerated the process. Each country closed theaters for months this year, meaning no one will be setting any records in 2020. But unlike the U.S., China effectively contained the pandemic while theaters were closed.

The result is very different levels of audience comfort regarding movie attendance. Over China's recent National Day holiday, Oct. 1 through 8, Chinese cinemas reportedly sold $586 million worth of tickets. During that same period, U.S. theaters sold about $12 million worth. And while industry observers disagree about whether that means China has passed the U.S. in tickets sold or money made in 2020, it will by next week be a distinction without a difference. China will be ahead on both counts, and the gap will only widen.

For what it's worth, bragging rights for the weekend's biggest opening go to another country that has the coronavirus under control - Japan, where the homegrown anime "Demon Slayer" shattered the all-time opening record for a Japanese film to rake in $44 million.

Bob Mondello, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOXYGEN'S "STAR POWER I: OVERTURE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.