China's box office grew by 30% to $248m (RMB2bn) in 2005, according tofigures announced on Wednesday by the Film Bureau of the State Administrationof Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

The growth is lower thanlast year when box office receipts increased by 50% to $186m (RMB1.5bn). Localfilms accounted for 55% of the total box office in 2004, and while market sharehasn't been announced yet, it's expected that local productions will also takemore than half the market in 2005.

Total film industry income -including overseas, video and TV revenues - also increased by around 30% to$595 (RMB4.8bn). The figure also includes new revenue streams includinginternet, mobile phones and digital TV.

Film Bureau director TongGang also announced that the Chinese film industry produced 260 feature filmsin its centennial year, compared to 212 films produced last year. Around 208were shot on film and 52 were digital productions.

Around 96 films wereproduced by private or other non-government film studios; 65 were produced bystate-owned studios; 62 were co-produced by state-owned and private studios,and 37 were co-produced by state-owned, private and foreign studios, Tong said.

Although the figures make China one of the world's largest film-producing nations, onlya small proportion of these films were given a theatrical release.

Chen Kaige's The Promise (aka Master Of The Crimson Armor) looks set to be the biggest film ofthe year, grossing $9m (RMB74m) in its opening four-day weekend (Dec 15-18),beating the previous record set by Kung-fuHustle of $7.8m (RMB63m).

Other top earners in China this year include Jackie Chan vehicle The Myth with around $12m (RMB96), Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire with$11m (RMB91), Tsui Hark's Seven Swordswith $10m (RMB83m) and Stars Wars:Episode III with $9m (RMB75m).