(Adds quotes, details on films)
BEIJING, Oct 20 (Reuters) - China’s movie box office revenue is expected to grow in 2017 at more than three times the pace of last year thanks to the success of blockbusters like “Wolf Warrior 2”, the media regulator said on Friday.
Takings would rise 11.6 percent to 55 billion yuan ($8.31 billion) this year, beating 2016 growth of 3.7 percent, said Zhang Hongsen, vice minister of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television.
“The rapid development of the film industry has been a big bright spot for China’s culture industry,” Zhang told a press conference in Beijing.
The Chinese Communist Party is supporting Hollywood-style films that portray China as the rejuvenated great power described in this week’s speech by President Xi Jinping to the Party Congress.
“Wolf Warrior 2”, a patriotic action movie that has raked in 5.6 billion yuan ($845.59 million) to become China’s highest-grossing film, depicts a Chinese hero fighting Western mercenaries in a war-torn African country.
While privately financed, the film has received strong support from state organisations, and China’s film regulators have submitted it in the foreign-language category at the 2018 Oscars.
Sun Zhijun, deputy director of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party Central Committee, said films should have social and “educational” benefits, not just make money.
“We cannot take market share, distribution figures, box office and audience ratings as the sole standard. We cannot be the slave of the market and led by the nose,” he said at the same press conference.
After disappointing box office growth in 2016, regulators announced that all sales grosses would include service fees for each ticket purchased online. This has boosted this year’s growth, although moviemakers see little of the additional revenue.
$1 = 6.6226 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Pei Li and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Stephen Coates