BEIJING: Star director Zhang Yimou’s martial arts epic Hero about China’s legendary first emperor has become the highest grossing Chinese film after just a month in theatres, its distributor said yesterday.
It has raked in 200mil yuan (RM91.8mil) at the box office, said Qin Lixin, deputy general manager of Beijing New Picture Film Co. Ltd.
The movie, which opened in mid-December, depicts Emperor Qin Shihuang’s campaign to unify China more than 2,000 years ago.
Helping lure audiences is a cast that includes martial arts star Jet Li of Romeo Must Die, Zhang Ziyi of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung of In the Mood for Love.
Zhang is famous for such films as Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern.
China’s biggest money-maker to date is the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, which took in 320mil yuan (RM146.8mil).
The three-hour movie was shown in two parts, with some audiences required to buy separate tickets for each half.
The previous record for a Chinese movie was held by Live or Die, an anti-corruption propaganda film released in 2000 as part of a crackdown on graft. It took in 120mil yuan (RM55.08mil), though it benefited from being shown to officials and government workers who were organised to go to theatres, Qin said.
As Hero climbs toward the Titanic record, its performance is fuelling national pride among movie critics.
“Hero is a symbolic film, and all the frames in the movie have the same symbol: Made in China,'' said the newspaper Southern Metropolitan News, published in the southern city of Guangzhou.
Hero cost US$31mil (RM117.8mil) to produce, making it the most expensive Chinese film ever.
Its video and audio rights sold for 17.8mil yuan (RM8.17mil) at a recent auction in Beijing, also a record, said Qin, the film distributor. – AP
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