Film industry to have good year without setting record

BEIJING – Think tanks are predicting the film industry in China will see a 30 percent increase in its box-office returns in 2011, just a year after those returns had risen by 64 percent.

In 2010, the Chinese film industry made 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), and that number is expected to be closer to 13 billion yuan this year, according to a report in the Blue Book on China’s Culture 2011, which was released on Tuesday.

The book was jointly produced by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Ministry of Culture and Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s cultural industry innovation and development research center. 

“The fast development of video websites and portable video devices will lead to a sharp income increase for the film industry,” Yin Hong, a professor from Tsinghua University’s school of journalism and communication, said in the report.

The increase in the industry’s returns in 2011 is not likely to be as great as it was last year largely because there is an absence of blockbusters like the film Avatar, an industry insider said. 

“The best bet this year is Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” said Tan Fei, a movie critic. “I’d guess it has grossed about 500 million yuan since it came out on July 21.” 

In contrast, Avatar brought in 540 million yuan in the first 15 days after it had begun showing in China and eventually led to the sale of 1.35 billion yuan worth of tickets in 2010, making it the biggest blockbuster in the history of film in China. 

“The slowdown at the ticket office is normal,” Tan said. “China’s GDP is also slowing down. It’s impossible for an industry to continue expanding at a record high speed as it did in past years.”

He said the Internet has played an increasingly important role in the development of the movie industry. 

“Movies are an art form related to society,” he said. “Hot topics on the Internet, including Internet buzzwords and web celebrities, will naturally be absorbed into movies made in China.”

The report also says the Chinese cultural industry should dedicate more time and resources to improving the quality of its products in the coming years, rather than their quantity. 

“This requires us to explore new ways of thinking and working as well as to establish better policies for the industry,” said Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s cultural research center and the chief editor of the report.

Jin Huiyu contributed to this story.

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