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Blockbusters soar at China box office

2015-03-12 09:02 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan
Homegrown blockbusters that did well during the Spring Festival include Dragon Blade, Wolf Totem and The Man from Macao II. (Photo/China Daily)

Homegrown blockbusters that did well during the Spring Festival include Dragon Blade, Wolf Totem and The Man from Macao II. (Photo/China Daily)

Busy movie theaters have never seen so many ticket sales, but insiders are saying it is too early to celebrate. 

China has overtaken the United States as the world's top box office for the first time, but some movie insiders are saying it is too early to celebrate.

Record Chinese Lunar New Year box-office takings saw an overall revenue of 4.05 billion yuan ($647.6 million) in February, making China, the world's second-largest market, surpass the US for the month for the first time, according to a report from Chinese entertainment research firm Entgroup.

The report, released on March 1, also shows that the North American box office for February grossed $710 million. Without Canada, the US took in $640 million.

The box-office record, most of which came during the Spring Festival period, is mainly because of homegrown blockbusters, with Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat's The Man from Macao II dominating the top slot taking in 655 million yuan.

The second biggest box-office hit Dragon Blade, a historical action film starring Jackie Chan, took in 596 million yuan. French director Jean-Jacques Annaud's Wolf Totem was the third-highest earner with total box-office takings of 455 million yuan last month, according to Chinaboxoffice.cn.

Yuan Lin, research director with Entgroup, says the data analysis is based on figures from a film office affiliated to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, and the Portland-based box office research firm Rentrak.

"To be fair, February is regarded as the highest-grossing season thanks to the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, but in the US the same period is a slow season," says Yuan.

She adds that it will mean more if the US and China are compared to each other in their hot seasons.

For the US, the most-anticipated box-office season is summer, from late May to August, and the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to the New Year.

"However, China has never surpassed the US at the same time before," Yuan says, "We estimate that it will take three to five years for China to lead the world's movie market."

In 2012, a report from Ernst &Young predicted that China will succeed America as the top cinema-going market in about 2020.

A year later, Entgroup made a more optimistic forecast. It predicted China's box office will reach $11.3 billion in 2017, overtaking the US for the first time. The forecast was based on China's fast-expanding market, with an annual growth rate of 25 percent compared to the US slowing to 1 percent.

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