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Chinese box office outgrosses North America for the first time ever

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For the first month in history, it looks as if the Chinese box-office will out-gross North American theaters.

According to Deadline, industry estimates suggest that U.S. and Canadian ticket sales will yield around $790 million for the month of February — more than $200 million less than the 6.87 billion Yuan ($1.05 billion) Chinese theaters brought in during the same span.

February 2016 also represents the second time that Chinese box-offices have out-grossed the U.S. The first time was in February of 2015.

If you’re seeking an explanation for these figures, look no further than the businessman who fell in love with the half-human sea creature who was sent to assassinate him. Translation: Look no further than The Mermaid, the highest-grossing film in Chinese history.

The film has broken virtually every Chinese box-office record in existence on its way to a $485 million take in February alone and is responsible for nearly half of the country’s $1.05 billion overall gross.

Given the film’s astronomical success, and the fact that February has traditionally been a slow month for the US movie industry, conditions were perfect for the Chinese box-office to make history. In fact, the $1.05 billion taken in by The Middle Kingdom in February of 2016 is nearly $200 million more than the all-time US box office record for the month ($818 million: Feb. 2012).

While it’s too early to tell if this is an aberration or a trend, it’s not too soon to call The Mermaid one of the most successful releases in the history of film. For those outside of China who want to see what all the fuss is about, the movie is playing in select U.S. theaters, but it has not received a wide release as of yet. Stay tuned for updates.

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