Chinese films hauled in an extra $204 million from o'seas markets

China celebrated a century of domestic cinema with a record box office year, state-run media reported.

Domestic Chinese B.O. returns hit 2 billion yuan ($248 million), up $62 million from 2004, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film, & Television.

Chinese films hauled in an extra $204 million from overseas markets, up 50% from 2004, Sarft said.

With 260 pics lensed in 2005, China’s film industry became the world’s third largest, behind Hollywood and India’s Bollywood, increasing film production by almost 20%.

China’s most expensive movie to date, Chen Kaige’s “The Promise” with a reported budget of $35 million, set a China opening-weekend record of $9.2 million with its December bow, knocking out the previous champion, Stephen Chow’s chopsocky hit “Kung Fu Hustle.”

“The Promise” is also China’s submission for consideration in the foreign-language Oscar category.

“China’s film industry has had a great year, but that disguises the fact that the industry lags behind its true potential,” said David Wolf, head of Wolf Group Asia, a Beijing-based media consultancy. “This is China being recognized for having great filmmakers, not a great film industry.”

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