Chinese box office falters but those Smurfs don’t seem to care

China's box office figures are predicted to slow over the next 12 months but in the short term those funny little Smurf creatures are keeping everyone happy.

The created-in-Belgium, franchised-in-Hollywood animated feature picked up an estimated 80 million yuan (8.7 million euros) over its first week of release to top the charts in China.

While that's a healthy enough figure, the Chinese film industry has this week been getting to grips with estimations that box office figures will rise 30 percent this year - to 13 billion yuan (1.4 billion euros). Not too shabby, one might think, until you run an eye over last year's figures for China, which saw a 65 percent rise in box office takings.

The figures were published in the Blue Book on Chinese Culture, which is put together by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Ministry of Culture and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The reason given for the decline in takings was the lack this year of an Avatar-like, all-conquering blockbuster.

On a brighter note, though, was the prediction from one academic that the Chinese film industry - long controlled by a few major state run studios - would diversify thanks to "the fast development of video websites and portable video devices."

There was not that much cheer for the Smurfs in South Korea over the past week, however. Takings of US$2.4 million (1.7 million euros) are okay, but way behind the local box office champ, The Ultimate Weapon, reaping close on to US$10 million (seven million euros) from its first week of release.

Asia's remaining major box office markets remained in the thrall of Hollywood, with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 plundering US$96 million (67 million euros) now from Japan's cinemas after five weeks, while Hongkongers were going ape thanks to the re-imagining of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which took just over US$1 million (700,000 euros) from its first week.

MS

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