Bona Film Group has been issued a licence to become the 49th official cinema circuit in China. This is the first licence after the China Film Administration’s new policy was introduced on December 2018, to accelerate the construction of cinemas and promote the development of the film market in China.
China Film Administration states that they want to reform the cinema circuits system in China by encouraging more competitive exhibitors to join; and encouraging mergers and acquisitions among cinema circuits to achieve business scale, strong branding and central operation and management. To apply as a cinema circuit, companies, must meet the following requirements: 50 owned cinemas, or no less than 300 screens; no less than RMB500 million box office (annual); no violation of law and cinema fund and tax has been paid on time.
Apparently, Bona has met all the requirements. Starting with film distribution back in 1999, Bona expanded its business to film production and film exhibition and became a key player in each field. Bona Cinema Investment and Management company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bona Film Group, currently operates 68 cinemas with around 550 screens across China. In 2018, Bona successfully gained RMB808 million box office, up from RMB786 million in 2017. After gaining the licence, all Bona’s new-build cinemas in 2019 will join the new circuit directly (currently it has 25 sites in plan). All other cinemas currently joined with other circuits are expected to transfer before end of 2019.
Cinemas have to join an official circuit to get the rights to screen a movie in China. Cinema circuits normally charge around 5% of the box office revenue to cinemas under it. After becoming an official circuit, Bona now can save the 5% and can sign more cinemas to join. It will have more control on screenings and operations of its cinemas too.
Other cinema investment companies who meet the requirements (at least the first two) and potentially become the next new circuits are CGV Cinemas, Jackie Chen Cinemas, UME Cinemas, HK Broadway Cinemas and Red Star Macalline.