China celebrated a century of domestic cinema with a record box office year, state-run media reported.
Domestic Chinese box office returns hit 2 billion yuan (U$248 million), up U$62 million from 2004, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film, &Television.
Chinese films hauled in an extra U$204 million from overseas markets, up 50% from 2004, Sarft said. With 260 films lensed in 2005, China's film industry became the world's third largest, behind Hollywood and India's Bollywood, increasing film production by almost 20%.
China's most expensive movie to date, Chen Kaige's The Promise with a reported budget of U$35 million, set a China opening-weekend record of U$9.2 million with its December bow, knocking out the previous champion, Stephen Chow's chopsocky Kung Fu Hustle.
The Promise is also China's submission for consideration in the foreign-language Oscar category.
China's film industry has had a great year, but that disguises the fact that the industry lags behind its true potential, said David Wolf, head of Wolf Group Asia, a Beijing-based media consultancy. This is China being recognized for having great filmmakers, not a great film industry.
(CRI January 11, 2006)