HONG KONG – Official data Saturday confirmed the 2013 growth of the Chinese box office.

According to data from the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, theatrical box office hit $3.53 billion (RMB21.8 billion) in 2013, compared with RMB17 billion in 2012. The official figure closely matches the most recent RMB21.6 million consensus figures from private sector forecasters earlier in the week.

The figure also confirms China as the world’s second largest theatrical market after North America.

Local Chinese films accounted for RMB12.8 billion of the total (representing a 58.7% market share), a figure that was achieved following a 54% improvement in their fortunes, according to Zhang Hongsen, head of the Film Bureau under the SGAPPRFT.

He revealed that feature film production slipped from 745 in 2012 to 638 in 2013.

Exports continued to be weak. Only 45 films achieved overseas sales. Their combined overseas box office was $173 million (RMB1.06 billion).

SGAPPRFT said that the number of movie theaters increased by a massive 5,007 screens in 2013, for the year to end with 18,200 in operation.