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Filmby shane “Monkey King” hnetka

I feel like I’ve covered this before, but the topic fascinates me. For most of movie history, Hollywood has ruled the world, dominating each country’s box office and massively impacting global popular culture. But things are changing, and changing fast.

Hollywood Slippage

In the last few years, Chinese audiences have become a huge proportion of the total global movie-going public. It’s reached the point where if a blockbuster isn’t a hit in China, there’s a good chance it won’t make enough money to break even.

Just look at this year’s top 10 grossing films worldwide: Captain America: Civil War leads the way with $1,152.7 billion. It’s followed by Zootopia, The Jungle Book, Finding Dory, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, The Secret Lives of Pets, Suicide Squad, The Mermaid and X-Men: Apocalypse.

Wait, what’s The Mermaid?! Well, it’s a Chinese movie directed by Stephen Chow about a mermaid sent to assassinate a businessman. Is it good? I have no idea. But it’s important, because this is a movie that didn’t even get a wide release in North America and it still made more than the majority of Hollywood films released this year.

In fact, in the top 50 (of 282 movies released this year so far), the Chinese films Monster Hunt The Monkey King 2, Ip Man 3 and Detective Chinatown come in at numbers 15, 28, 32 and 36. And Monster Hunt — which, yes, is on Netflix — made more money than Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond and The Angry Birds Movie.

Make Films, Not Warcraft

Universal Studios’ Warcraft bombed at the box office. It only made $47 million in North America on a $160 million budget. In China, however, it pulled in $220 million. That helped give Warcraft a worldwide total of $433 million. Hey, the movie made money after all.

And what does that mean?

It means that despite bombing in North America it’s going to have a sequel. And this sequel — which has been green lit — might not even play North American theatres, because that’s not the audience it will be made for.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. A couple of years ago, Need for Speed got a sequel because it was an international success.

It definitely won’t be the last time, either.

Box office results determine what big movies get made and what don’t. Since North America doesn’t have a monopoly on ticket sales any more, expect the film industry to be very different in a few years.

Very, very different.

Shane Hnetka is a Saskatchewan film and comic book nerd who writes the weekly Sunday Matinee column on our website. Follow him on Twitter: @Shnetka.