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China on track to overtake India in B.O. receipts

Earnings could reach up to $6 bil by 2015, researchers say

China is on track to be the world’s second-largest movie market within five years if growth continues at its current furious pace, a conference of producers was told this week.

China’s B.O. earnings are likely to reach between $4.5 billion and $6 billion by 2015, which would make it the world’s second-largest market after the U.S., overtaking India, the research center of the China Film Producers Assn. told a film forum in east China’s Jiangsu Province.

Tong Gang, director of the film bureau at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said Chinese B.O. hit $726 million in the first half of the year, up 86% from a year earlier, and would reach $1.5 billion this year, a strong rise but still well shy of the $10 billion forecast for the U.S.

Central to the expansion will be the construction of 1,500 more screens this year, raising the total to 6,000. The number is expected to double by the end of 2015.

The rise in screens has given a major boost to pics, especially during holidays like the recent October National Day. Overall B.O. during the holiday period was $42 million, $12 million more than a year previously, driven by Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” and local pics Tsui Hark’s “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame” and Su Chao-pin’s chopsocky pic “Reign of Assassins,” produced by John Woo.

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