Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Hollywood outshone as China box office booms in 2013

By Katie Hunt, CNN
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 0623 GMT (1423 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China's box office takings total $3.6 billion in 2013, up a third on 2012
  • Unlike last year, homegrown movies were more popular than Hollywood fare
  • Only three Hollywood movies ranked in top 10, including "Iron Man 3"
  • Hollywood is trying to woo Chinese movie audiences

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Homegrown movies dominated China's box office in 2013, as annual takings totaled $3.6 billion, up almost a third on 2012, official figures released on Wednesday showed.

Only three of the 10 highest-grossing movies were Hollywood productions and domestic films accounted for 71% annual box office revenues, said Zhang Hongsen, head of the film bureau under the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

This was a sharp reversal from last year when Hollywood movies captured more than half of all ticket sales and only three local movies made it into the top 10.

The top grossing movie was adventure-comedy "Journey to the West: Conquering Demons" directed by Stephen Chow, grossing 1.25 billion yuan.

TOP MOVIES 2013

Journey to the West: Conquering demons (1.3B yuan)

Iron Man 3 (753M yuan)

So Young (717M yuan)

Pacific Rim (694.7M yuan)

Young Detective Dee: Rise of the sea dragon (600M yuan)

Personal Tailor (581M yuan)

American dreams in China (538M yuan)

Finding Mr. Right (519M yuan)

Tiny Times 1.0 (484M yuan)

Gravity (434.8M yuan)

Source: China Daily

"Iron Man 3" starring Robert Downey Jr. ranked second.

Hollywood movies have been popular in China despite quotas on the number of foreign films that can be released in cinemas.

However, China's movie industry, which had struggled to compete against Hollywood's big-budget, special-effect laden productions, has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the past couple of years.

"The growth of annual box office receipts is mainly driven by the continuously accelerated establishment of theaters across the country, as well as the improved quality of Chinese movies," Yang Shuting, senior analyst with Beijing-based EntGroup Consulting told The China Daily.

In 2012, slapstick comedy "Lost in Thailand" became China's first homegrown movie to take more than 1 billion yuan at the box office.

The upswing in the popularity of domestic fare at the Chinese box office comes as the Chinese market grows in importance for Hollywood studios. It became the world's second largest in 2012.

According to the China Daily, almost 5,100 screens were added in across China last year, bringing the total to more than 18,000

To appeal to Chinese movie-goers, Hollywood is increasingly making use of Chinese backdrops, themes, plot devices and actors in what some commentators have described as "kow towing."

For example, "Gravity" which ranked 10th in box office takings, features China's Tiangong space station and the lead character, played by Sandra Bullock, makes her journey back to earth in a Chinese space capsule.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0631 GMT (1431 HKT)
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0414 GMT (1214 HKT)
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 0437 GMT (1237 HKT)
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0656 GMT (1456 HKT)
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0836 GMT (1636 HKT)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 0638 GMT (1438 HKT)
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 0812 GMT (1612 HKT)
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
June 11, 2014 -- Updated 0013 GMT (0813 HKT)
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0654 GMT (1454 HKT)
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT