How popcorn has become a 390 million yuan hit with mainland Chinese movie-goers

Snack big revenue earner at cinema chain as China has become the world's second-largest film market outside the US

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 6:06pm

Popcorn has become a big money maker at the mainland’s largest cinema chain, as more people flock to the nation’s movie theatres.

Wanda Cinemas said on its website it earned 390 million yuan (HK$491 million) in revenue last year from popcorn, just under 10 per cent of its total returns of 4.1 billion yuan.

Huang Qunfei, the general manager of the Beijing New Film Association, a cinema in the capital, told Xinhua popcorn sales are sometimes higher than ticket takings at a movie theatre screening because revenue has to be shared by film companies, distributors and cinema firms.

“Incomes from selling popcorn is basically pocketed by movie theatres alone,” said Huang.

Although under strict censorship, the mainland’s movie industry is booming, attracting 504 million movie viewers in the first ten months of last year.

About 467 million trips were made to movie theatres in the whole of 2012.

Box office takings have climbed from 950 million yuan in 2002, when China started to introduce a cinema chain system, to over 21.7 billion yuan last year, according to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Analysts have said increasing audiences have been driven by the burgeoning middle class in mainland cities.

Wanda Cinemas ran 142 cinemas with 1,247 screens, including 89 IMAX screens as of late last year.

The firm was co-founded by Wang Jianlin, who is China’s wealthiest man, according to Forbes magazine.