Beijing - China's monthly box office surpassed North America's for the first time in February, which included the peak movie-going period of Lunar New Year.
Chinese cinemas took a record 6.87 billion yuan ($1.05 billion) in ticket sales in February, about $250 million more than the North American market, the official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday. It cited the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
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China's box office continues to grow at spectacular rates as the country builds more cinemas and screens. Its February total was nearly 70 percent higher than that of February two years ago, Xinhua said.
China is expected to surpass North America as the world's largest movie market as soon as next year.
Chinese movie "The Mermaid," a romantic sci-fi movie with an environmental message directed by Stephen Chow, drove the February box office, pulling in more than 3 billion yuan ($460 million) after opening on Feb. 8, the Chinese New Year Day.
The movie about a mermaid who is sent to kill a property developer whose latest project threatens the waters where she lives, and ends up falling in love with him, has also become the biggest grossing film in Chinese box office history.