Chinese box-office revenue edged ahead of the United States in February for the first time ever as a record Lunar New Year bonanza brought in $650 million in the second-largest movie market, according to data from research firm Entgroup.
The North American box office for February came in at $710 million, according to Entgroup, but once Canada was stripped out, the figure was $640 million, making China the biggest box-office market in the world for the month, the firm said.
The Entgroup figures for North America (the U.S. and Canada) are lower than those of Rentrak, which says domestic revenue hit $760 million in February, but they highlight a trend that China is set to become the world’s biggest film market sooner rather than later, especially as the number of screens increases dramatically every week. Rentrak doesn’t separate out U.S. revenues.
The top movie in China for the month was Chow Yun-Fat starrer The Man From Macau II, which brought in $104 million, followed by historical action movie Dragon Blade, starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody, which accumulated $95 million during the month.
In third place was the $40 million Sino-French epic Wolf Totem, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, which brought in $72 million.
In fourth was Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal, a $30 million, 3D, VFX fantasy action adventure co-directed by Peter Pau and Zhao Tianyu and produced by Ann An of Desen International Media, with $56 million, followed by Xu Jinglei‘s romance Somewhere Only We Know with $44 million.
Running Man, an adaptation of a Korean reality TV format, made $42 million in February.
The holiday period is kept clear of foreign movies to give domestic films an even run. The biggest Hollywood movie in the month was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which brought in $36 million. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, the latest installment in Lionsgate’s YA film franchise, amassed $35.5 million in China in February.
Before February, the biggest box-office month ever in China was July last year with $580 million, thanks to Transformers: Age of Extinction‘s release that month. The Lunar New Year has become the peak moviegoing period in China. This year, it ran Feb. 18-24. Box office during that week alone amounted to $270 million, according to data site 58921.com.