China's box office has become the world's largest this year with over 20 billion yuan (or about 3.2 billion US dollars) in revenues. It's the first time that the all-time global box office champion North America has been overtaken.
China's gross theater revenues from January to March jumped nearly 40 percent from last year, which was over two billion yuan higher than North America's revenues.
The increase was mainly supported by China's week-long Spring Festival Holiday. The country's box office totalled 5.5 billion yuan during the holiday, surging almost 70 percent from the same period last year.
High-quality domestic films were another major contributor. The movies took the larger share of the total box office revenues and gained mostly good reviews.
For example, Operation Red Sea and Detective Chinatown 2 both earned about 3.5 billion yuan. And the literary film Youth from director Feng Xiaogang produced almost 1.2 billion yuan. Indian films were the second strongest competitor to Hollywood in the Chinese market. Secret Superstar and Bajrangi Bhaijaan by Bollywood both did better than expected in the first quarter.
Market researchers from Citic Securities expect China's box office to grow 20 percent for the whole year. Why are they so confident?
First, the audience are waiting for the premier of several Hollywood blockbusters and major domestic films, including Mission Impossible 6, Ant Man 2 and Hidden Man from the well-respected Chinese director Jiang Wen. Second, movie markets in China's smaller tier cities have huge potential.
Forty five percent of China's movie viewers in the first quarter were from third and fourth-tier cities, up 7 percent from last year.