Report: China b.o. to overtake Japan in 2015

China to become second-largest film market in five years

BEIJING -- China will overtake Japan as the world's second-largest movie market after the U.S. in the next five years, an industry association forecast this week, saying Chinese would buy up to 40 billion yuan ($6 billion) in movie tickets by 2015.
Already the world's second-largest economy, having overtaken Japan earlier this year, China and its swelling middle class are in the throes of a cinema revival not seen here since the 1930s, a boom that is causing a rush to build more multiplexes and attracting Hollywood’s attention.
China will add another 1,500 cinema screens this year, raising the total to 6,000, the China Film Producers Association said in a statement, at a forum held in east China's Jiangsu Province on Wednesday. The number of screens in the nation is expected to double to 12,000 by the end of 2015, the assn. said.
The Chinese box office hit 4.84 billion yuan ($726 million) in the first half of the year, up 86% percent from a year earlier, Tong Gang, director of the film bureau at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said in July.
Tong said the 2010 box office would reach 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion), continuing its upward drive from 6.2 billion yuan ($933 million) in 2009 and less than 1 billion yuan ($150 million) in 2003.
Japan’s total box office gross in 2009 was 206 billion yen ($2.54 billion), according to the Motion Picture Producers' Assn. of Japan.

-- Gavin J. Blair in Tokyo contributed to this report.