Local films lead China b.o. to another strong quarter

Revenue up 25% annually since '03

China's boxoffice, led by a quarter of local hits, has earned more than 800 million yuan ($111 million) in the past three months, a holiday haul that reflects the overall growth of the Chinese film industry, the state-run Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.

China Film Group president Han Sanping said that annual revenue for the country's film industry has increased 25% annually since 2003. China's boxoffice in 2003 earned 930 million yuan, 1.5 billion yuan in 2004, 2 billion yuan in 2005, 2.6 billion yuan in 2006 and 3.3 billion yuan in 2007, according to data previously released by China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Comparatively, China's GDP has grown about 10% during the same period.

"The growth is exciting and proves the success of China's movie-development strategy," he said. On the other hand, Han noted that Chinese films have yet to keep up with foreign competitors overseas in distribution, production and sales in overseas markets.

Four films dominated the boxoffice for the three-month period.

December openings "The Assembly" and "The Warlords" have earned 260 million yuan ($36.4 million) and 220 million yuan ($30.8 million), respectively. "CJ7" and "Kung Fu Dunk," which opened for the Chinese New Year period at the beginning of February, had collected 185 million yuan ($25.9 million) and 120 million yuan ($16.8 million), respectively, as of last week.

A number of smaller Chinese films made up the remainder of the total.

Said Zhang Hongsen of SARFT, "800 million yuan is a striking number, showing Chinese filmmakers have found the key to satisfying Chinese filmgoers."

Things were less upbeat for foreign films, which earned only 50 million yuan ($7 million) in the same three-month period thanks in large part to an unofficial partial ban.