China's small and medium-sized cities saw a rise in Spring Festival box office sales as tens of millions of city-dwelling movie fans rushed back to their hometowns for the holiday.
Dadi Digital Cinema, a chain with cinemas located mainly in second-, third- and fourth-tier cities, saw its box office ranking climb from sixth to second place in the country, surpassed only by Wanda Cinema Line in sales.
"During the first five days of the holiday, Dadi cinemas recorded box office sales of 110 million yuan (18.15 million U. S. dollars), which is about 11 percent of the country's total during that period," said Fang Bin, vice general manager of Dadi. "Usually, Dadi's box office only takes 7.5 percent," Fang added.
Hongliyu Cinema Line, which focuses on developing county-level cinemas, saw its box office ranking rise from 30th to 25th during the holiday.
According to Entgroup, an entertainment industry consultancy, this year's Spring Festival box office sales in China's four first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen accounted for 16.95 percent of the country's total, and the percentage has been dropping for three consecutive years.
Hou Tao, vice president of Entgroup, said that many people have developed a routine of watching movies in the big cities and they stick to their habits when they return to their hometowns during the holiday.
"In the past, my family and friends would just gather to have dinner or play cards and mahjong during the Spring Festival. Now the cinemas have become an important place for family reunions and friend gatherings," said Li Qi, a Shanxi Provice native who works in Shanghai.
China's box office sales grossed 1.39 billion yuan from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 , 81.7 percent higher than that of the corresponding holiday period last year, according to Entgroup.