China’s box office revenues grew 51 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to news reports Sunday that cited China National Radio. However a recent ticketing scandal has cast doubts over the accuracy of the figures.
Ticket sales in the first three months of 2016 amounted to 14.5 billion yuan ($2.24 billion), with Chinese films accounting for almost three-quarters of the country’s box office sales, the state-run radio channel said.
China’s movie ticket sales grossed $6.3 billion in 2015, a 48 percent jump from the year before. In February, Chinese sales of movie tickets overtook the U.S. for the first time, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Hollywood has become increasingly reliant on China — the world's second-largest film market — as the domestic market stagnates.
In March, China’s box office watchdog suspended the license of a distributor who had artificially inflated the box office figures of a martial arts film — “Ip Man 3.”
“These kinds of issues could be considered inevitable in a young industry, but box office fraud has become so serious that it is already harming Chinese cinema,” Zhang Hongsen, head of China’s state-run film bureau told the BRICS Post.
China currently limits the number of foreign films that can be released in the country to 34 a year, prompting Hollywood studios — including Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. — to strike partnerships with Chinese film and media companies to make local blockbusters.