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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.

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