Chinese authorities have announced that the territory's box office revenues reached $347.21m (RMB2.368bn) up until the end of August, which is a 31% increase from the same period in 2007.

In addition, the market share of local films (including co-production films) was much higher than in the past, accounting for 56.6% of the total market with $196.48m (RMB1.34bn), during the period from January to August.

La Peking, the newly promoted deputy director of the Film Bureau, under the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), announced the figures during his speech at the on-going Beijing Screenings, an annual trade fair for Chinese-language films.

According to La, with the growth rate from January to August, the 2008 box office takings will easily reach $586.51 (RMB4bn). La also pointed out that film production numbers remained the same. Up until the end of August, 263 local films received screening permits and it is expected that the number will reach 400 by the end of the year. In 2007, the local production amount was 402 films.

In terms of cinema business, the SARFT statistics in La's speech indicates that 75 new cinemas with 366 screens opened during this period, for a total of 1,502 cinemas with 3,894 screens. Besides, the number of digital screens has been fast increasing: the number of 2K digital screens increased from 200 screens in 2007 to 800 screens up until August 2008.

Meanwhile, based on Screen's in-house statistics, up until last week, there were eight films grossing over the RMB100m benchmark, which shows that cinema-going continues to expand.

The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor became the eighth film surpassing RMB100m this year, reaching RMB106m in its second week. In 2007, there were a total of seven films passing the box office benchmark.

With more local blockbusters such as Painted Skin, Mei Lanfang and the new Bond movie Quantum Of Solace to come in the next three months, it's likely that three more films will break the RMB100m benchmark.