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China’s movie box office is expected to surge 20 percent-plus in 2017, hitting a record total of $8.31 billion (55.0 billion yuan), the country’s media regulator said Friday.
In yuan terms, the figure would be up 20 percent, while the growth in dollar terms would hit 26 percent.
The sizable expansion would mark a major turnaround from 2016, when tickets sales grew by just 3.7 percent to $6.58 billion (45.7 billion yuan) after averaging 35 percent yearly gains for a decade.
The 2017 forecast was made by Zhang Hongsen, vice minister of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, during a press conference on the sidelines of China’s 19th Party Congress, Reuters reported.
“The rapid development of the film industry has been a big bright spot for China’s culture industry,” Zhang said.
The return to double-digit growth would put China back on track to overtake North America as the world’s largest box-office territory within a handful of years. North American box office revenue grew by 2.1 percent in 2016, settling at $11.36 billion.
A sizable chunk of China’s gains were driven by the historic success of local action flick Wolf Warrior II, which brought in $863 million over the summer. No Chinese film has ever earned more, and only J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens exceeded it in a single market, grossing $936.6 million in North America in 2015.
Hollywood’s biggest release in the Middle Kingdom so far this year has been Universal’s The Fate of the Furious, which earned $392.8 million in April, an all-time record for an imported title.
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