Multiplex growth averages 1.65 screens a day

China’s B.O. boom continued unabated last year as box office rose a muscular 44% to 6.2 billion yuan ($910 million) on a sharp rise in the number of cinema screens in what’s potentially the world’s biggest market.

The China Film Group had earlier forecast 40% year-on-year growth (Daily Variety, Dec. 29).

With this kind of growth rate, I am confident that in 2010, China’s box office will grow to a new height,” China Film spokesman Weng Li said. His remarks were based on data from the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV.

This means for the last six years, the Chinese film market’s box office has maintained an annual growth rate of more than 30%,” Weng said, adding that China produced 456 domestic films in 2009.

The main impetus behind the strong growth was the rise in screen numbers. Citing SARFT figures, Weng said China had added 1.65 new screens every day last year.

China imports around 20 foreign films a year for theatrical release. The two top movies of 2009 were 2012,” which took $67.5 million, and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which took $63 million.

Homegrown epic “The Founding of a Republic,” celebrating the People’s Republic of China’s 60th anniversary, made $61 million.

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