The latest "Transformers" movie, which features Chinese locations, actors and products, has so far earned almost as much in China as in the United States, helped by a record number of screenings for a foreign movie.
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" has made an estimated $149 million in the U.S. and $134 million in China, the world's respective first- and second-biggest movie markets, according to figures from box office tracking website Box Office Mojo.
Director Michael Bay's film, which was released June 27 in both markets, heavily courted the Chinese audience by employing Chinese stars, basing part of the action in cities in China and showing Chinese products such as liquor and milk. A reality TV show to choose four people to play roles in the film helped to drum up publicity.
More than half of China's more than 20,000 screens showed the movie.
Hou Tao, vice president of leading entertainment consultancy EntGroup, said Sunday that on average 55 percent of screens were set aside for the movie at the start, which had dropped to 46-48 percent in the last few days. He said that it was a record for foreign movies, which would normally be lucky to be shown on 40 percent of screens.
Hou said that "Transformers" is on course to beat "Avatar" as the biggest earner at the Chinese box office. "Avatar" earned $218 million in China in 2010.