China box office tops N. American market in first quarter

Shanghai (AFP) –


China surpassed North America to become the world's largest movie market during the first quarter of 2018, fuelled in part by big-grossing domestic films, according to US and Chinese box-office figures.

China's movie market made 20.21 billion yuan ($3.17 billion) between January and March, according to the China Movie Data Information Network, while US trade journal Variety said the North America box office reached $2.85 billion.

Almost three quarters of the revenue -- 15 billion yuan -- came from Chinese-produced movies, the China data showed.

Of the top 10 films watched in China during the first quarter, seven were domestically produced, and Chinese-made movies occupied the top five slots.

Military blockbuster "Operation Red Sea" was the top-grossing film in China during the period, with a take of 3.6 billion yuan.

Along with action film "Detective Chinatown 2" and the fantasy genre "Monster Hunt", the three Chinese movies accounted for almost half of China's total box office during the first quarter.

US super-hero film "Black Panther" and sci-fi flick "Pacific Rim Uprising" did well after their releases in China, moving up to second and third in the March-only box office.

The Chinese numbers were also boosted by movie-goers flocking to cinemas during the extended Lunar New Year holiday in February.

China's box-office revenues surged in 2017 after slowing sharply the preceding year, official media reported in January.

Ticket revenue grew 13.45 percent to 55.9 billion yuan ($8.6 billion) in 2017, state-run news agency Xinhua had said, citing data from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Hollywood has a keen eye on China's potentially lucrative movie market, although Beijing strictly limits the number of foreign films that can be released in Chinese cinemas.

China also takes measures to help boost domestic films' performance, including limiting the screening of foreign films during peak seasons and rewarding cinemas for playing more domestic titles.