The Chinese box office total gross in 2010 reached $1.51bn (RMB10 billion), up 61.29% on 2009. After 44% growth in 2009, the 2010 boom again sets a new record.

Box office was boosted by the country’s rapid development of cinemas, as well as several megahits. James Cameron’s Avatar contributed $203.92m (RMB1.35bn) and topped China’s box office chart for 2010. Feng Xiaogang’s local disaster thriller Aftershock took second place, taking in $98.18m (RMB650m). Christopher Nolan’s Inception earned $69.18m (RMB458m). Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly took in $81.57m (RMB540m).  If You Are the One II, another Feng Xiaogang blockbuster, earned $54.38m (RMB360m)

The top two films – Avatar and Aftershock – together represented one-fiftth of total box office. And China’s top 10 films have taken 45% of the total box office gross, showing that blockbusters still lead the way. Gao Jun, general manager of Beijing’s New Film Association, pointed out that among the 150 films that screened in cinemas in 2010, only less than 20 local films made a profit.

Other contributing factors for box-office growth were the overall uptick of ticket prices and the higher-priced tickets for 3D and IMAX releases. Avatar was released in both 3D and IMAX screens, while Aftershock and Inception had extra IMAX releases.

Statistics from State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) showed that local-language films had market share of 55%, while foreign films accounted for 45% of the market.

According to SARFT, by the end of 2010 there were more than 300 new cinemas built with 1,500 new screens, making the total screen count now 6,200 screens. Among the 1,500 new screens, 90% of the new screens are digital. In terms of production, there were 526 local films produced in 2010, up 70 filmsfrom 2009. 

China’s Top 10 films of 2010

1. Avatar - $203.92m (RMB1.35bn)

2. Aftershock - $98.18m (RMB650m)

3. Let the Bullets Fly- $81.57m (RMB540m) *

4. Inception - $69.03m (RMB457m)

5. If You are the One II - $54.38m (RMB360m)*

6. Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame - $43.8m (RMB290m)

7. Ip Man 2 - $34.74m (RMB230m)

8. Alice in Wonderland - $33.68m (RMB223m)

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - $33.23m (RMB220m)

10. The Expendables - $32.17m (RMB213m)

* Still on release

Source: SARFT and Screen International