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Beijing's Film Box Office Hit Record High This Year

Beijing's film box office hit a new high of 200 million yuan (US$24 million) this year, exceeding the all time box office high set in 1998. And it's not just the films that are making the big bucks -- many cinemas have also drawn huge profits, some raking in well over 10 million yuan.
Last weekend gave great momentum to Beijing's film market. Though not an official holiday in China, Christmas had something to do with this and hundreds of thousands of Beijingers filed into movie theaters to see the latest blockbusters on show.

At Hua Xing UME Cinema, the city's first 5 star movie theater, the queue extended an eye blurring distance from the entrance. Lu Yao, the general manager of Hua Xing, says they are doing good business this year.

"Our box office this year has reached a record high of 30 million yuan."

This year Hua Xing ranks first in income among all cinemas across China. And most of the cinemas in Beijing have seen a big increase in their incomes. It seems that there is also an increase in people's enthusiasm for seeing movies on the big screen.

Chen Xiao Ying, a senior official with Beijing Xin Ying Lian Film Company, a film distributor, says many people are eager to buy tickets, and some shows sell out quickly.

"The audiences are really enthusiastic. And we find our staff is always quite busy selling tickets. Everyday in the afternoon and evening, the line is long and most of the shows these days are packed."

Along with other film distributors, Beijing's total box office this year will be 200 million yuan, much higher than the record of 127 million yuan in 1998.

The box office miracle in 1998 was attributed to the success of Hollywood's mega-budget blockbuster Titanic.

This year, facing competitive foreign blockbusters like Lord of the Rings, Spiderman 2 and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, domestic films aren't going down without a fight. Cellphone at the beginning of the year, House of Flying Daggers in the middle and A World Without Thieves and Kungfu Hustle at the end all contributed a great deal, accounting for 60 percent of the total box office this year.

The domestic film market has been experiencing quite a difficult time as pirate editions flooding the market, greatly affecting sales and film makers' enthusiasm to produce good work. But with this year's string of successes, people are coming in hordes to cinemas, and the market is expecting to continue to warm up over the course of the year.

(CRI.com December 28, 2004)

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