Pirated DVDs may still be widely available in Beijing, but it’s clearly not stopping more and more people every year from seeing films at the city’s growing number of cinemas. Case in point: for the tenth consecutive year, China’s box office has grown more than 20 percent per year, taking in RMB 21.6 billion in 2013.
Already the world’s second-largest cinema market after the United States, China’s box office was led by Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow‘s adaptation of classic novel Journey to the West, aptly titled Journey to the West: Conquering The Demons. Three of the top ten films for 2013 were from Hollywood (the only foreign-produced entries in in that group): Iron Man 3, which was partially produced by Beijing-based DMG Worldwide and featured a cameo by Chinese actors Fan Bingbing and Wang Xueqi; Legendary Pictures’ Pacific Rim; and Gravity, which slid into tenth place.
Scheduling remains an issue in what is still a highly-regulated market, with top Hollywood films excluded from prime vacation times, including the October holiday and Spring Festival. For example, the second film in The Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, still has no release date for the Chinese mainland, although Hong Kong audiences actually got to see it the day before it opened in North America.
Read all about Beijing’s best cinemas in the January issue of the Beijinger.