China's cinemas set for record box office in 2010

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The Independent Culture

China could earn a record 10 billion yuan (1.5 billion dollars) in box office takings this year, as a growing number of well-off young urbanites flock to the cinema.

La Peikang, deputy director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China's movie regulator, said this would represent a 61 percent jump from 2009, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The figures compared to takings of less than one billion yuan in 2003, he added.

China-made films grabbed a share of more than 56 percent of the box office last year in a nation that now counts at least 5,000 cinema screens, the report quoted him as saying late Saturday.

The Chinese movie industry is protected by a system that only allows around 20 foreign films to be screened a year, allowing homegrown directors to create Hollywood-style blockbusters without the threat of major overseas competition.

At the beginning of the year, however, James Cameron's "Avatar" became China's all-time box office champion, grossing 1.3 billion yuan, the report said.

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