Scorching summer seen at China BO

Local films, Hollywood titles fanning BO flames

BEIJING -- A healthy competition between China's local films and Hollywood blockbusters has fueled roaring boxoffice growth in the first half of the year, local media reported Friday.

China Central Television said China's boxoffice hit RMB2.3 billion ($336 million) from January through June, up 45% on the same period in 2008.

Half this gross was made in the peak Lunar New Year and start-of-summer movie-going periods, CCTV said.

Hollywood Blockbuster "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" pulled in a whopping record RMB160 million ($23.4 million) in its first week, despite heavy censorship of its opening scenes of Shanghai.

"Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince," from Warner Bros. is the next big inbound Hollywood picture. Trailers are showing across China now and the movie will likely release around July 15, CCTV said.

"This summer will be a hot competition between Hollywood films and domestic comedies and action films," said Gao Jun, general manager of the Beijing Xinyinglian theater chain, one of the biggest in the country.

Gao predicted that China's boxoffice would reach RMB5 billion ($732 million) by the end of the year, marking a sixth straight year of growth above 25%.