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
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
A group in China escapes from a stuck elevator thanks to one man and his trusty hammer. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Facebook's founder says he taught himself Mandarin and tested his skills with students in China.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0133 GMT (0933 HKT)
China launched an experimental spacecraft that is scheduled to orbit the moon before returning to Earth.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: This was a truly high-tech scam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
The rationale behind Confucius Institutes -- an international chain of academic centers run by an arm of the Chinese government -- is understandable.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 0511 GMT (1311 HKT)
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0315 GMT (1115 HKT)
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1454 GMT (2254 HKT)
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
October 8, 2014 -- Updated 0229 GMT (1029 HKT)
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT)
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
ADVERTISEMENT