A Wanda cinema in Yichang, Hubei province. Wanda Cinema Line Corp, the country's largest chain in terms of box office revenue, raked in 3.49 billion yuan ($545.4 million) during the first half of the year. (Photo/China Daily)
China's film industry continued to prosper during the first half of the year, driven by a continued expansion in the number of cinemas and the growing popularity of going out to watch a movie.
Another 600 theaters and 2,449 screens were added nationwide during the period, according to new statistics from EntGroup Consulting, the Beijing-based entertainment industry consultancy.
Wanda Cinema Line Corp, the country's largest cinema chain in terms of box office revenue, raked in 3.49 billion yuan ($545.4 million), a 40.82 percent increase on the previous year. That delivered a net profit of 629 million yuan, a 50.43 percent year-on-year rise.
Wanda attributed the strong performance to its ongoing expansion of theater screens, a rapid growth in online tickets sales, and its large-scale acquisitions and mergers both inside the country and elsewhere.
By the end of July, Wanda said it owned 195 operational movie theaters housing 1,732 screens.
SMI Holdings Group Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed theater operator, meanwhile, reported theater revenues of HK$1.25 billion ($161 million) in the first half, a 64.1 percent rise year-on-year.
By June, the company said it owned 130 cinemas in the major Chinese cities, with more than 1,000 screens, up from 90 and 700 respectively at the end of 2014. The number of moviegoers visiting SMI's theaters increased 67.31 percent in the first half year-on-year.
Officials at SMI said it plans to increase its total number of theaters in the country to 200 by the end of this year, mainly in second-and third-tier cities, where there is the greatest potential.
Elsewhere in the market, EntGroup's study showed Bona Film Group Ltd, the leading film distributor and producer, generated $189 million in revenue during the first six months, a 85.9 percent annual growth.
Huang Guofeng, a movie analyst with the Beijing-based information technology consultancy Analysys International, said: "In recent years, Chinese audiences have gradually developed more mature film-watching habits, especially in first-and second-tier cities.
"This has been driven by factors including government support of the movie industry, growing per capita disposable income, and a positive shift in ideas about cultural and entertainment consumption."
Information from Analysys claims the average annual frequency of movie-going among Chinese increased from 3.9 in 2011 to 6.4 in 2014.