The "Transformers" sequel has become China's biggest box office hit ever by earning 400 million Chinese yuan ($59 million), a publicist for the country's leading state-run film company said Friday.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" surpassed the 11-year-old record of 360 million yuan set by "Titanic," spokesman Weng Li at the China Film Group, one of the country's two film importers, told The Associated Press. "Titanic" made about $43 million based on exchange rates in 1998, the year it was released.
Weng said the "Transformers" sequel, released June 24, received a wide release on several thousand screens. China had about 4,100 screens by the end of 2008. The first "Transformers" installment raked in 280 million yuan in 2007.
"This is a tremendous achievement for the market in China and clearly shows that there is a strong growing demand for international films," said Mike Ellis, Asia-Pacific managing director of the Hollywood trade organization, Motion Picture Association of America.
The group wants China to relax its movie import quota of allowing in just 20 foreign blockbusters a year, aimed at boosting its domestic industry.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," a science fiction movie, was apparently slightly censored. In the film's opening sequence, the Autobots and Decepticons battle in an industrial part of Shanghai, but when a U.S. military commander refers to the city, the word "Shanghai" is muffled.
Chinese censors are sensitive to portrayals of their country in foreign movies.
The "Transformers" sequel earned $62 million on its opening day in the U.S. alone. The $200 million production has grossed $348 million in the U.S. and $380 million outside the country, according to the box office tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.
Chinese box office revenues totaled 4.3 billion yuan ($630 million) in 2008, compared to $9.8 billion in the U.S. in the same year.