The Chinese film industry can be divided into four main geographical areas: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. They all have different artistic styles, spoken languages, government censorship and regulation. Each one of the different geographical regions collaborates with the others, but uses different film financing sources, government funds and distribution mechanisms.
Since 2003, Mainland China box office has had a two-digit yearly growth rate. 2009-2011 were booming years for the Chinese film industry: in 2009, despite the world’s global downturn, China film market’s box office increased 43% compare to the previous year, earning $908 million USD (6.2 billion yuan), and reinforcing the notion that the movie business gets stronger during economic downturn. In 2010, China's box office grew by 61%, making it the third-largest box-office market in the world, behind Japan and the U.S, grossing $1.47 billion USD (10 billion yuan). Those earnings were boosted by both Hollywood imports such as Avatar (Hollywood films grossed $204 million in China) and local hits such as Aftershock. Mainland China made 500 films in 2010, ranking the nation third behind Bollywood and Hollywood in terms of annual film output.
The main reason behind the fast growth is the increase in the country’s cinemas and screens. In many major Chinese cities, cinema-going has become a new lifestyle of the country’s burgeoning middle class. As a result, the movie-going population has also largely increased. China’s 2010 box office growth coincided with the addition of three new theatrical screens each day on average, bringing the nation’s total to 5,690 screens in about 1,800 cinemas. This was in addition to the premium paid for increasingly popular 3D screenings of Hollywood imports such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland in 2010.
In 2011, Mainland China’s box office will likely set another record for total gross of about $2 billion, but the rate of growth has slowed significantly, at a rate closer to 30% this year. State-run English-language newspaper China Daily cited China’s slowing gross domestic product (GDP) as a primary reason for the slowdown in growth despite record numbers. China’s growing number of cinema screens push numbers higher as films become more accessible to audiences in more remote areas.