China cinema takings surge during annual holiday

Chinese cinema box office takings rocketed during the country's biggest annual holiday, an official agency said on Wednesday, underlining massive growth in China's film market.

Total receipts during the first six days of the Lunar New Year rose more than 85 percent year-on-year to reach a total of 760 million yuan ($121 million), a State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) spokesman said.

More than 19 million Chinese people bought Cinema tickets during the period, SARFT said. The Lunar New Year is China's most important festival, when hundreds of millions return home to spend time with their families.

Domestic films accounted for 95 percent of takings during the period, according to reports confirmed by a SARFT staff member surnamed Lu.

China last year became the second largest film market in the world, behind the United States. Foreign films took over half the revenues, despite facing an annual cap of only 34 releases.

Ten new cinema screens open every day in China, state media have reported.

But SARFT vice-minister Tian Jin in November urged domestic filmmakers to "enhance creativity", saying their movies faced tremendous pressure and needed to be more competitive.