BEIJING (AFP) ― China’s box office takings leaped to $3.6 billion last year, up 27.5 percent on 2012, as nearly 14 screens were added every day to the world’s second-largest film market, state media reported Wednesday.
Chinese cinemas raked in 21.77 billion yuan in 2013, the China Daily said, citing the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
The year’s highest-grossing film was “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,” an action fantasy adaptation of a Chinese classic novel believed to date from the 16th century.
Only three Hollywood movies made it into the top 10, with “Iron Man 3” ranking second with 753.6 million yuan in takings, followed by “Pacific Rim” in fourth place and “Gravity” in 10th, the report added.
Unlike in 2012, domestic productions had more of the market than imported movies, with 12.77 billion yuan in ticket sales for a 58.7 percent share, the China Daily said.
Imported movies earned nine billion yuan in the year, up 2.3 percent from 2012 but only 41.3 percent of the market, according to the report.
Official data showed domestic and foreign films had 48.5 percent and 51.5 percent of the Chinese cinema market in 2012 respectively.
Foreign films in China come under an annual quota ― just 34 last year ― and face censorship by cultural authorities who excise content deemed politically sensitive or obscene.
Nearly 5,100 screens were added in theaters across China in 2013, bringing the total number of screens in the country to 18,195 by the end of the year, the report said.
Analysts have forecast China will have 30,000 screens within three to five years, but the paper quoted Liu Hanwen, an official with the administration, saying it was hard to predict when the number of cinemas would be sufficient to “satisfy audience demand” spurred by the country’s rapid urbanization.
Industry experts have predicted that China, which collected an estimated $2.8 billion in box office revenue in 2012, second only to the U.S.’ $10.8 billion, will at current rates become the world’s biggest film market by 2020.