A poster for China's hottest summer blockbuster action flick Wolf Warrior 2 is seen in a cinema. Photo: AFP

In the first three months of the year, gross theatrical revenues in China reached US$3.17 billion, topping box office results in North America, which totaled less than US$3 billion, according to data from industry sources.

“The importance of China as a movie market cannot be overstated,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore was quoted by Variety as saying. “With homegrown titles such as ‘Detective Chinatown 2,’ ‘Operation Red Sea’ and ‘Monster Hunt ‘ posting massive numbers, along with US titles such as ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Pacific Rim’ and most recently ‘Ready Player One’ relying on the market to bolster their bottom line, China has enjoyed an absolutely incredible first quarter at the 2018 box office.”

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s trade spat with China is threatening to throw a monkey wrench in negotiations to increase China’s quota for Hollywood films.

“Film quotas are exactly the kind of target the Chinese would threaten in response to these tariffs,” Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute was quoted as saying. “The tariffs will not especially harm China, but they will want to deter further action. While attention focuses on soybeans and the like, China prefers smaller but high-profile targets.”