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Going to the movies remains top pastime
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-06 10:13

Watching a movie at the cinema is still the top entertainment option for China's urban residents despite the slump in the nation's movie market in recent years.

According to a survey by the China Film Association in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Hangzhou, 40 per cent of participants prefer to go to the cinemas for entertainment.

Movies are followed by web-surfing, TV-watching, reading, sports, electronic games and karaoke as the top entertainment choices.

Disaster films lead the pack, followed by sci-fi movies, war films and romances, according to the survey.

Before the 1990s when TVs were luxurious commodities for most Chinese families, the cinema used to be a haven for young people to have first dates. Many middle-aged Chinese still recall sitting in a playground to see an "outdoor movie."

Young people aged between 18 and 26, most of whom are company employees and students, make up the majority of the movie audience, accounting 47.8 per cent of the total, said the survey.

At the same time, the frequency of cinema-going does not grow with a higher income.

The survey showed that citizens with a salary of less than 1,000 yuan (US$120) account for one third of total audiences.

One problem, however, is prices. The cost of tickets has soared to an unbearable high for some movie goers, said Hao Dong, of the China Film Association.

The price of going to the cinema has increased to 20 or 30 yuan (US$2.4-3.6), or even more than 50 yuan (US$6.0) from 8 yuan (less than US$1) 10 years ago in many Chinese cities.

Such a trend inevitably leads to a flood of pirated but cheap VCDs/DVDs and hurt the healthy development of Chinese movie industry, said Hao.

In fact, Chinese cinema has changed so rapidly that the theatre is no longer the only place that people can enjoy a movie.

More and more people choose to see movies on TV, VCD or DVD or download them from broadband Internet connections

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