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Foreign blockbusters dominate in China's national holidays

(Xinhua)

13:26, February 02, 2012

BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Foreign blockbusters dominated the Chinese box office during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, in the absence of major domestic rivals.

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" took 60 million yuan (9.5 million US dollars) during the holiday week (Jan 22. to Jan. 28), becoming the highest-grossing of the top 20 films screened in cinemas during the period, according to its Chinese distributor on Thursday.

On release in China since Jan. 15, the second Sherlock Holmes film directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law has so far collected a box office of about 145 million yuan in the Chinese mainland.

"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" reported 55 million yuan on Jan. 28, its first screening day and the last day of the holiday, collecting the highest daily box office of a film during the Spring Festival.

During the holiday, the national box office was estimated to be 390 million yuan (62 million U.S. dollars), up from 320 million yuan in 2011 and 340 million yuan in 2010, according to leading cinema chains.

China still has no official authority to provide national box office figures and the current numbers were based on the ticket sales of around 10 main cinema chains such as New Film Association, Stellar International Cineplex and Wanda Cinemas.

The Spring Festival season is traditionally dominated by domestic films, mostly comedies to fit with the festive mood. In 2011, the biggest winners were a Hong Kong comedy and a mainland Kungfu comedy.

This year, there was fewer films starring big-name Chinese actors, and the remaining Chinese movies did not perform very well, said Gao Jun, deputy general manager of New Film Association.

"The Viral Factor," starring Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou and Hong Kong film star Nicholas Tse, took 54 million yuan during the national holidays, ranking it highest among the Chinese films on offer.

Prof. Yu Jianhong, with the Beijing Film Academy, also noted that too many domestic films with similar styles and topics rushed into the same season, making competition tense and distracting audiences.

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