China Has Record July at the Box Office

The Chinese box office sector enjoyed its biggest July of all time with a record $898 million (RMB5.49 billion) take. Ticket sales hit 159 million.

China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said on Saturday that the July performance lifted the cash total so far this year to RMB25.9 billion.

That compares with the $4.82 billion (RMB29.6 billion) in the full 12 months of 2014. It seems likely that the 2014 total will be overtaken in late August or early September.

Chinese authorities have been operating a blackout period, or “domestic film protection month,” since June 19. During this time major foreign films are not allowed new releases. And SAPPRFT reported that Chinese films accounted for more than 95% of the July total. Hits “Monster Hunt,” “Pancake Man” and “Monkey King: Hero Is Back” drove the total.

While the blackout periods are regarded by Hollywood studios as government-orchestrated distortions of the Chinese cinema market, the current summer hiatus follows a huge first half for U.S.-made movies. And with overall market records still being broken without the help of Hollywood’s firepower, suggests the Chinese theatrical market is in good health.

“The July record should be regarded as a milestone in China’s film industry,” said Zhang Hongsen, head of the SAPPRFT film bureau, quoted by state news agency Xinhua. “Chinese filmmakers should keep in mind what is really driving the success — the audience.”

The next major Hollywood titles to release include “Terminator: Genisys” on Aug. 23, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” on Sept. 5 and “Minions” on Sept. 13.

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