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Moviegoers purchase tickets at a theater in Nantong, Jiangsu province. China's theater boom began in 2010, when box office receipts exceeded 10 billion yuan ($1.61 billion), according to statistics from EntGroup Consulting.
The rapid expansion of movie theaters in China has boosted box office revenues as well as spurred a huge demand for theater management specialists.
The boom began in 2010, when box office receipts exceeded 10 billion yuan ($1.61 billion) for the first time. The number of theaters surged from 2,000 in 2010 to 2,800 in 2011, up 40 percent year-on-year, according to statistics from EntGroup Consulting, a Beijing-based entertainment industry consultancy. The rapid increase in the number of theaters resulted in a shortage of qualified managers.
"During rapid economic development, the availability of human resources tends to lag behind industry growth,"said Han Jian, associate professor of human resource management at China Europe International Business School.
A qualified manager must understand all aspects of running a theater, including operations, marketing, finance and screening, which is why it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to develop such skills, Han said.
Liu Cuiping, research manager at the Beijing-based entertainment consultancy EntGroup Consulting, said, "Nowadays, most movie theater managers are sourced from other sectors, such as hotel management, business administration and finance."
For example, Xu Qiong, general manager of Bingo Cinema in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, said that she entered the industry after leaving her managerial position at Procter & Gamble Co.
The shortage of qualified candidates has left theaters fighting for recruits.
Li Hui, assistant general manager of Omnijoi International Cinema in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, said: "I receive many calls inviting me to join other theaters. It's not unusual in our line of work."
Li began working in theaters in 2005 and has held different positions, such as waitress, ticket clerk and snack saleswoman.
Wang Guangmin, director of human resources and administration at Beijing Megabox Zhongguan Cineplex Co, which owns and operates two theaters in the city, said, "Qualified theater management candidates have a wide range of options when seeking job offers."
The competition for managers has led to a high turnover rate.
Some candidates seek higher positions and higher pay, but once they are hired, sometimes their skills are insufficient for their added responsibilities, said Li Yunling, training director of operations at a theater owned by Hainan Airlines Co Ltd.
"Those people just use their previous work experience as a bargaining chip for higher positions and better pay,"Li added.
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