China continued its box-office surge in 2008, with a 26.7% rise on the previous year. Box-office receipts in China finished at $617.1m (rmb4.2bn) according to figures from the Film Bureau under the State Administration of Radio, Film And Television (Sarft) - the sixth year in a row the territory has published a growth rate of more than 20%.
It was also a good year for Chinese production, with 400 local films produced (slightly down from 402 films in 2007). Box office for local and official co-productions was up 42%, with grosses of $375.3m (rmb2.6bn) - a 61% share of the market.
Foreign-film market share was the lowest in three years with 39%, despite a combined $241.9m (rmb1.7bn) revenue, up 8% on last year. The first part of John Woo's war epic Red Cliff was the highest grossing film of the year, after its record-breaking run. The film took $45.7m (rmb312m), followed by Gordon Chan's Painted Skin which took $33.7m (rmb230m).
The Chinese success contrasts with what has been a mixed year in the Asia-Pacific region.
South Korean admissions for 2008 totalled 149.2 million, down 5.3% on last year, according to market-leading exhibitor CJ CGV, which calculates figures based on its in-house reports and estimates. The figures, which precede the official results soon to be issued by the Korean Film Council (Kofic), put the local market share at 42.5% - down 8.3% on 2007 - with total local-film admissions down 20.7% to 63.4 million. The Good, The Bad, The Weird topped the box office, with 6.9 million tickets sold. Kim Jee-woon's oriental western has broken out of its home territory with a release in France last month and reaches the UK on February 6.
Hong Kong's film body, the Motion Picture Industry Association (Mpia), reported an 8% year-on-year rise in the territory's 2008 box office, with revenues of $140.3m (hk$1.09bn). The growth is not as strong as 2007 which beat 2006 by 11.5%, but that followed two flat years, and last year was a push in the right direction.
Local productions' results were up 9% on the previous year, with a combined gross of $32.4m (hk$251.2m), accounting for 23% of the market.
Only two Chinese-language films made the top-10 films of the year in the territory: local production CJ7, which came second behind Warner Bros' The Dark Knight, and Red Cliff Part I which came in at ninth.
The Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (Mpdaa) reported a 6% increase on 2007, with Australians spending $672m (a$946m) at the cinema in 2008. The Dark Knight was the top-grossing film, with $32.5m (a$45.8m).
The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan will not publish 2008 box-office results until the end of January, although early indicators show a slight drop in sales, while local films may dominate the territory with as much as a 60% market share.