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China’s February Box Office Tops $1 Billion, Beating North America for First Time

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China is still on track to surpass North America as the world’s biggest movie market next year.

The country’s box offices grossed more than North America’s for the first time in history last month, the Associated Press reports. (Last year, China’s box office haul surpassed that of the U.S. for the first time.) Movie theaters in China raked in $1.05 billion in ticket sales this February (about 6.87 billion yuan), according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, which is about $260 million more than what North American theaters brought in during the same period.

The biggest movie in China last month was The Mermaid, about a mermaid who plans to kill but ultimately falls in love with a property developer who poses a threat to her waters, which also is the highest-grossing film in Chinese history. It opened on Feb. 8, kicking off the Lunar New Year holiday period, and has grossed more than $460 million (about 3 billion yuan).

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Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com