China b.o. headed for $400 mil mark


BEIJING -- China's boxoffice is expected to rise to 3 billion yuan ($400 million) in 2007 as the number of cinemas and Chinese-language movies competing with imported titles grows, state-run media reported Thursday.

Chinese movie theaters reaped 1.2 billion yuan ($158 million) in boxoffice revenue in the first half of 2007, the Xinhua news agency said, putting it on pace to overtake the 2 billion yuan reported for all of 2005 and 2006's 2.6 billion yuan.

Growth in 2007 is partly because of the rise in cinemagoing at the 100 new cinemas and 700-plus screens opened in China so far this year, the Beijing News reported.

Boxoffice in China's state-restricted theatrical marketplace could swell in the fourth quarter with the anticipated December releases of Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" and Beijing director Jiang Wen's "The Sun Also Rises."

Meanwhile, Hollywood blockbusters have given local movies a run for their money as such titles as "Spider-Man 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Transformers" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" have each earned more than 100 million yuan ($13 million).