Chinese cinema stocks a hit as New Year drives box office record

Ticket sales pass $1bln, swelled by Lunar New Year staycations

  
A screen showing a trailer of Walt Disney's live-action war movie "Mulan" is pictured at a cinema in Hong Kong, China September 17, 2020.

A screen showing a trailer of Walt Disney's live-action war movie "Mulan" is pictured at a cinema in Hong Kong, China September 17, 2020.

Reuters/Tyrone Siu

BEIJING/SINGAPORE - Cinema stocks jumped in Hong Kong on Tuesday as record-breaking Chinese box-office revenues surpassed $1 billion for the week beginning Feb. 11, driven by a Lunar New Year movie-going rush.

Data from online ticketing platform Maoyan Entertainment showed sales of 6.77 billion yuan ($1.05 billion) in mainland China for the holiday week as of 1930 local time (1130 GMT) on Tuesday, beating the previous weekly record of 5.9 billion yuan in 2019.

Box office revenues had begun recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic after cinemas reopened in June. 

The new year sales boom followed the decision by some authorities, such as in Shanghai, to provide free movie tickets to encourage people stay where they were over the new year holiday, rather than travel to their home towns, in an effort to contain a resurgence of coronavirus cases that began in January.

Cinemas in Beijing opened as early as 8 am and as late as 3 am to attract younger customers, while limiting occupancy to half of available seats to allow social distancing, China's official People's Daily reported.

The record receipts reflect the "robust momentum of China's film industry," the newspaper said on social media platform Weibo on Monday.

Cinema stocks jumped on Tuesday on Hong Kong's first trading day after the holiday break.

Shares in IMAX China Holding Inc soared by as much as 87.9% to their highest since June 2018 before closing up 31.1%. Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd ended up 34.6% and Maoyan Entertainment rose as much as 24.5% to a record 19.30 Hong Kong dollars ($2.49) per share before closing up 9.6%.

($1 = 7.7526 Hong Kong dollars)

($1 = 6.4542 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Aizhu Chen; additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Barbara Lewis) ((cheng.leng@thomsonreuters.com; +8610-5669-2129;))

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