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China box office up 29% for 2011

China box office up 29% for 2011

By Patrick Frater

Tue, 10 January 2012, 12:02 PM (HKT)

Box Office News

Theatrical box office in China passed $2 billion as the industry grew by 29% in 2011, boosted in particular by a stronger second half.

New figures from the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television (SARFT) 國家廣播電影電視總局 showed that gross box office hit RMB13.1 billion ($2.09 billion). Chinese made films accounted for RMB7.03 billion ($1.16 billion) and a market share of close to 54%.

Film Bureau chief, TONG Gang 童剛, said that overseas grosses for Chinese films were worth only RMB2.05 billion, a decline from the previous year.

He also said that China produced a total of 791 films in 2011, but did not indicate how many achieved a domestic theatrical release. Other sources suggest these were in the region of 230.

Analysis the data, Tong said that 20 Chinese films passed the box office milestone of RMB100 million ($15.8 million) in 2011, and praised the improving quality of films such as ZHANG Yimou 張藝謀's The Flowers of War 金陵十三釵 (2011), which was the year's highest grossing title. Still on release, it has grossed over RMB500 million ($79.2 million).

However, Tong said that the year belonged to low- and medium-budget films, some of which enjoyed significant commercial success and represent new diversity and a break-through for a new generation of film-making talent.

He specifically cited the example of Love Is Not Blind 失戀33天 (2011), a runaway box office hit which cost some RMB8.9 million ($1.4 million) to produce, but grossed more than RMB350 million ($55.5 million).

The 29% overall growth is a slowdown from the prodigious 64% leap made in 2010 – gross box office was RMB10.2 billion in 2010 and RMB 6.21 billion in 2009 – but it still means that box office has more than doubled in the space of two years and puts China now among the world's top five markets.

The year end growth rate is also a significant advance on the first half of 2011. The first six months delivered RMB5.5 billion ($870 million) and an increase of only 14% on the first half of 2010. Indeed, Jan and Feb 2011 were down on the first two months of 2010 when Avatar (2009) was storming Chinese cinemas.

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