BEIJING — China’s box office in the cities hit 1.6 billion yuan ($230 million) in the first half of 2008, a 50% increase on the same period last year, with a strong rise in auds to 64 million, the China Film Group said on its website.
Top chop-socky performer “Kung Fu Panda” broke local toon B.O. records, bringing in $19.6 million in its first three weeks and becoming the first animated feature to pass 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) in B.O.
Stephen Chow’s sci-fi pic “CJ7” was the only pic in the first half to break the psychologically important 200 million yuan ($29.4 million) barrier.
Chinese pics tend to do best around the holiday periods, but this year the government has broken up some of the week-long Golden Week holidays into smaller, less disruptive units.
The May Day Golden Week has been turned into three holidays, and the releases of pics were timed to coincide with the new vacation days.
Cinemagoers around Tomb-Sweeping Day in early April brought in 70 million yuan ($10.2 million) for “Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon.”
“The Forbidden Kingdom” and “Iron Man,” released around the May Day holiday, both exceeded 100 million ($14.5 million), China Film said.
Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” which was released during the Dragon Boat Festival in late June, has made 86.4 million yuan ($12.6 million) so far.
China Film said the decision to break up the week-long holidays had provided “satisfactory results” in B.O. terms.
Based on the first-half performance, the group forecasts that urban box office in the second half would reach $350 million to give revenues in the cities of $580 million this year.
This does not account for other revenue streams, such sales from rural traveling cinemas and from screenings in factories and workplaces. Once these ticket sales are factored in, the Chinese biz is on track for a record $722 million this year.