Chinese box office set for 40% rise

Theaters bring in $336 million in first six months

China’s box office continues to defy the global economic downturn, with more than 80 films screened in mainland cinemas bringing in $336 million (2.3 billion yuan) in the first six months of the year.

The first half usually accounts for 40% of China’s total annual box office haul, which means the full-year figure is on track to reach $834 million, an increase of some 40% on last year’s $629 million.

The first five months of the year saw B.O. totaling $275 million, and June’s figures were boosted by takings from “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

Better distribution through a greater number of theaters continues to help the market.

There were fewer big films around earlier this year, which led to a shortage of movies at key periods such as Valentine’s Day, but B.O. growth was driven by Ning Hao’s “Crazy Racer” and John Woo’s “Red Cliff II.” A surprise hit during Chinese New Year was local animated feature “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf.”

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