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New year holiday box office hits 3.3 bln yuan


02-07-2017 11:09 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 Spring Festival

China's box office hit a record 3.3 billion yuan during the Chinese New Year holidays, jumping 10 percent year-on-year. Domestic films performed well, with five of them leading the sales. But does that increase in box office receipts mean a real recovery of the movie market from last year's slack showing?

The strong figures during the Chinese New Year mark a rebound from the weak box office sales in 2016, when only 45.7 billion yuan was reported for the entire year, a notable easing of growth. The first day of the Year of Rooster saw a single-day sales record of 805 million yuan.

"This year's Spring Festival box office showing was better than that of the previous months. It was the holiday, so many people had a break and watching films was one major entertainment for them. Several films including the Journey to the West and Kung Fu Yoga performed quite well," Hu Chen, marketing director with Shanghai Grand Theater, said.

Five major domestic films had their showings during the Chinese New Year holiday, including Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back, Kung Fu Yoga, Duckweed, Buddies in India and Bonnie Bears. The launch of these films boosted ticket sales, but the performance of individual movies was not as good that for 2016's spring festival premiers. The best-performing Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back made 1.2 billion yuan in box office sales last week, much less than that for the 2016 Lunar New Year favorite -- The Mermaid. Audience didn't have much good to say about this year's domestic premiers.

"They really didn't come up to my expectations. I think they still have a way to go."

"The production of domestic films is good, and the images are pretty. But the stories and editing are not as good as in foreign films."

Movie critics say the rebound in box office earnings this year does not necessarily mean a real improvement in domestic productions, but rather the expansion of supply in China's movie market.

"While the box office during this year of the rooster was much more than last year, that was due to the increase in the number of theaters. The number of movie screens in China is now at 40,000, more than even that in the North America. Secondly, there were more movies than last year. There were only three major movies in 2016 -- The Mermaid, The Man from Macau and The Monkey King. But we had five major films this year," Wang Ce, movie critic with New Culture Media, said.

The number of movie screens in China saw a dramatic rise in 2016 with an average increase of 26 screens every day. Movie information provider Entgroup predicts that the size of the movie industry in China will see an increase of 15 to 20 percent in 2017.

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