Magazine article Screen International

Ten Industry Storylines Set to Dominate 2017

Magazine article Screen International

Ten Industry Storylines Set to Dominate 2017

Article excerpt

1. CHINA

The world's most populated country now boasts more cinema screens than the US (as of November) and is set to become the world's largest box office territory by 2018.

Thanks to a number of eye-watering deals, Dalian Wanda - which in 2016 acquired Legendary Entertainment for a reported $3.5bn and Odeon & UCI Cinema Group for $1.2bn - now operates 8.1% of world cinema screens, representing 15% of total global box office.

The deals and opportunities look set to continue in 2017 with the evolution of quotas for US blockbusters and more opportunities for arthouse films and the weekly emergence of notable media players. But will US lawmakers flinch in the face of voracious domestic acquisition and will China's box office growth hit a significant speed bump?

2. INDIE PAINS OR INDIE OPPORTUNITY?

Fortissimo Films and Metrodome Group were among industry casualties in 2016 while Entertainment One closed international sales division eOne International at the start of the year. In the US, Relativity Media's woes continued to fill column inches (with CEO Ryan Kavanaugh reportedly resigning in December) and industry chatter continued to alight on challenges for The Weinstein Company.

While new players have emerged in the sales and distribution space, growth plans have been slower than anticipated for others and there is no escaping the squeeze on an independent sector battling talent and audience migration to alternative entertainment channels, market congestion and the decline in physical home entertainment receipts.

In the space of two years, companies focused purely on film production have almost ceased to exist as producers and financiers branch out into TV and other revenue streams. Expect more business diversification and vertical integration in 2017. And plenty more TV talk.

Premium VOD windows and day-and-date rollout will also be hot topics for the indie and studio spheres alike, posing challenges and opportunities.

3. STAR WARS: WILL THE FORCE REMAIN STRONG?

Disney goes from strength to strength, in no small part thanks to its flagship franchise, which looks set to dominate the film galaxy for the next few years at least. After scoring the biggest release of 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the studio will bookend 2017 with Rogue One and Looper writer-director Rian Johnson's as-yet-untitled episode VIII. On its December opening weekend alone, the former blasted its way to a mammoth $290m.

Disney had four of the top five films of 2016 and the only three films to cross $1bn globally (Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory and Zootopia/Zootropolis) in the year. It is on course to deliver a record domestic market share and it is the first studio to cross the $7bn global mark in a year. But the performance of Rogue One is likely to be key in determining Star Wars spin-offstrategy for years to come. Just think of all that merchandising.

4. NETFLIX AND AMAZON...

It was a quiet year for the online titans...ahem. Netflix's international growth continued apace and Amazon dominated the Cannes Film Festival, the high sanctuary of the silver screen. Both launched ground-breaking mega-budget series and made splashy plays at festivals.

Growth for both is likely to be vast once again in 2017. But will Netflix ever be able to crack China? …

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