In a reversal of fortune, ticket sales for Chinese movies skyrocketed in the first half of 2013 to dominate the home market. Local films grossed 6.85B yuan ($1.1B), for a 144% increase on last year. Imported movies lost 21.3% of their market share with sales of $717M. Total box office for the first semester was $1.79B, up 36.2% year-on-year according to figures released by government agency the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
Leading the charge for Chinese movies this year is Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons which opened in February and had taken $203.7M by the end of June. Despite the downturn in U.S. movie fortunes, Iron Man 3 was the second biggest grosser of the six month period at $123M, the figures showed, according to China Daily. So Young, the drama directed by actress-turned-helmer Vicki Zhao Wei which broke opening day records in April, rounds out the top three at $117M. Of the top 10 titles, four were Chinese, accounting for 54.4% of revenues in the first half. Films that are currently burning up the box office include coming-of-age drama Tiny Times which had taken $67.67M as of Sunday, Johnnie To’s Blind Detective which sold $13.65M in its first weekend and Man Of Steel whose cume was $58.20M as of Sunday according to Ent Group data.
China’s overall box office in 2012 was $2.7B which catapulted it ahead of Japan as the No. 2 worldwide movie market. But local films lost ground in 2012, with market share falling to under 50% for the first time in four years. A last-minute surge from comedy Lost In Thailand in late 2012 started to turn the ship. A state official pointed out in November last year that an increase in foreign films in the market had “shaken” the local industry. China has in the past year scheduled more Hollywood films to open head-to-head and there have been periods where no studio movies were released, although the same official contended, “The release schedule of films is purely a market act… The government will never impose a schedule to any film or release.”