Mainland box-office sales hit record 2.6b yuan
China's cinema box-office receipts rose 30 per cent last year to a record high of 2.6 billion yuan, aided by the government's campaign against piracy, according to figures from the mainland broadcasting industry regulator.
The strong growth at the box office boosted the total revenue for the movie industry last year to 5.7 billion yuan, up 18.75 per cent from 4.8 billion yuan in 2005. The industry also received a boost from overseas sales, which rose 15 per cent to 1.9 billion yuan.
However, domestic productions accounted for a 55 per cent share of the box-office receipts compared with 60 per cent in 2005, even as the number of films produced in the mainland grew to 330 from 260 in the previous year.
The year's biggest hit was Curse of the Golden Flower, starring veteran Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat and mainland actress Gong Li, which has recorded more than 250 million yuan in ticket sales since it began showing last month.
The Banquet, featuring mainland star Zhang Ziyi and based loosely on Shakespeare's Hamlet, raked in 130 million yuan in revenue from movie-goers in China and Jet Li's martial arts tale Fearless recorded about 101 million yuan.
Hong Kong firms including Sundream Pictures, the movie production subsidiary of i-Cable Communications, and Albert Yeung Sau-shing's Emperor Entertainment also gained from the boom.
Sundream's A Battle of Wits, starring Andy Lau, had 67 million yuan in revenue, ranking fifth in the mainland market. Rob B Hood, an Emperor Entertainment production starring Jackie Chan and Leo Koo, earned 97 million yuan.
The mainland government will invest 30 million yuan this year to help second-tier provinces such as Henan and Hunan develop digital cinemas. Investment in the upgrading of old cinemas to digital reached 128 million yuan last year.