May 1, 2017 / 3:46 AM / in 7 months

'Fate of the Furious' drives China box office to fastest growth in over a year

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s box office sales grew at their fastest pace in over a year in April, driven by the U.S. action movie “The Fate of the Furious”, the eighth instalment of the high-octane fast car franchise.

Actor Charlize Theron (L) and Jason Statham (C) and Director F. Gary Gray attend a media event for the new film "The Fate of the Furious" in Beijing, China March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

Monthly ticket sales jumped nearly 57 percent from the same period a year ago to 4.9 billion yuan ($707.5 million), data from box office tracker EntGroup showed, the largest monthly growth since February last year.

China’s box office, a magnet for Hollywood producers, saw growth stall last year amid a crackdown on subsidies and a weak slate of movies. Ticket sales grew under 4 percent in 2016, down sharply from around 50-percent growth the year before.

After a stronger start this year, China ticket sales slid again in February and March.

The sharp April rise came on the back of the latest outing from Universal’s hugely-popular Fast and Furious franchise. The film, released in mid-April in China, has so far raked in $362.7 million in the China market, EntGroup data showed.

Despite a slowdown in box office sales in the market, U.S. studios are increasingly looking to China to boost global revenues, though they face issues from a local quota system for imported films to questions over censorship.

Hollywood is lobbying to increase the official quota level of 34 imported films a year and to raise the share of sales that international partners receive, as a revenue-sharing deal struck in 2012 comes up for review this year.

“The Fate of the Furious”, which stars Vin Diesel and Jason Statham, is the second-highest grossing movie of 2017 so far behind “Beauty and the Beast”, with global ticket sales of $1.06 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Joseph Radford

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