China: No. 2 movie box office after US

Moviegoers at a multiplex cinema in Beijing in February 2009.

China has outranked Japan to become the world's second-largest movie market over the last year with a record $2.7 billion in sales.

In February 2012, Beijing opened up to more American movies.

The Motion Picture Association of America said box office receipts there were up some 36 percent.

"China's building about 10 screens a day. There's a voracious appetite for product. Our films have done consistently well there," said Chris Dodd, chairman and chief executive of the MPAA.

The new data underscores the growing importance of the Chinese movie market for Hollywood, despite its numerous marketing and censorship challenges, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Overall, Hollywood saw global ticket sales increase 6 percent in 2012. China was a major reason for the spike.

"The diversity of the movies was unusually strong. We had the kind of movie slate we need to see and people showed up," said John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners. "2013 is not performing as well as expected.