Disaster film is the 3rd to cross 400 million yuan

Disaster pic “2012″ has become the third movie this year to breach the 400 million yuan ($58 million) B.O. threshold in China, notching up $62 million in receipts on the mainland market within 24 days of release.

Pic is also on target to overtake the $63 million B.O. earlier this year of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” the current record holder in China.

Propaganda epic “The Founding of a Republic” took a hefty $61 million in receipts during its run to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, making it the biggest Chinese pic ever.

It’s shaping up to be a boffo year for revenues in China, with total B.O. surpassing $733 billion in the first 10 months of the year, the Chinese film bureau said. Mainland B.O. is forecast to rise by 40% on last year’s figure of $630 million.

Driving this was the strong increase in the number of screens. China Film Group said that by the end of 2008, China had 4,097 screens, which is expected to rise to 4,500 screens by the end of this year and is on track for 6,000 screens by the end of 2010.

The rise in China’s multiplexes was the focus of this week’s CineAsia distribution and exhibition conference in Hong Kong, where delegates heard how the number of cinemas is expected to grow as orgs invest in them to feed growing demand.

The strong performance of the foreign movies comes despite a quota of about 20 foreign films allowed into China every year on a revenue-sharing basis, although Hollywood prefers flat fees. Of the 20 foreign pics, only a few are from Hollywood, as the quota also covers films from countries besides the U.S.

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