Chinese B.O. hits $1.53 billion

Revenue last year was 64% up on 2009

China is the fastest-growing major box office market in the world, with 2010 grosses of just over 10 billion yuan ($1.53 billion), up 64% from 2009’s $940 million, the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV said Friday.

The strong result puts the Chinese biz well on track to meet its target of more than $3 billion by 2012.

The figures are an interesting backdrop to what’s set to be a turbulent year in the Chinese biz. State film giant China Film Group is restructuring ahead of a planned stock market listing, and the industry is wondering what aspect of its business will be brought to market.

The figures also come at a time when the quota system that allows 20 foreign movies into the market on a revenue-sharing basis is becoming increasingly difficult to justify as the boom in cinema screens increases the demand for content.

The biggest earner of the year was “Avatar,” with $210 million, while “Inception” made $69 million, according to figures from Sarft and the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Assn. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” chalked up around $33 million in its first month in Chinese cinemas.

Chinese films earned $530 million overseas last year.

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