SHENZHEN, May 16 (Xinhua) -- An app that lets viewers watch new-release films on their mobile phones is expected to pump up China's box office numbers.
Jack Gao, CEO of Smart Cinema, said at the 14th Cultural Industries Fair held in Shenzhen on Monday that the Smart Cinema app began its pilot run this month. The company believes that the mobile service complements brick-and-mortar cinemas, helping to expand the cinema group in China.
Smart Cinema's streaming schedule for new-release films is synchronized with the big screen listings, and mobile viewing is expected to expand China's box office sales, said Gao.
He said consumers pay the ticket price via mobile payment systems, such as Alipay and WeChat Wallet, which can be counted as part of China's box office totals.
An Xiaoxi, from north China's Hebei Province, said she downloaded the app to catch the release of Hollywood blockbuster "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," scheduled to debut in China in June.
"My work is too busy to give me the leisure of going to cinemas, but the app allows me to squeeze in watching new movies during commuting time," she said.
China has already become the world's second-largest movie market, with ticket revenue growing by 13.45 percent year on year to 55.9 billion yuan (8.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017, more than triple the growth rate in 2016, according to official figures.
However, there are 340 million people living in China's county-level regions which have a maximum of one cinema.
Gao expects mobile viewing can fill the gap to make rural China a new source of growth for the country's movie market.
The number of mobile phone users in China increased to 1.44 billion by the end of February, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Gao said the company has a system for protecting the copyrights of films to prevent piracy, recording and breaking of firewalls.
"Any attempts at movie bootlegging via the app can be traced," he said.