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New movies set holiday eve record

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-01 08:48
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A poster for My People, My Country. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Trio of blockbusters provides boost to recently lackluster market, analyst says

Chinese moviegoers set a box office record for the eve of the weeklong National Day holiday on Monday, with takings more than twice the previous record, according to several industry trackers.

By 9:30 pm, films released on Monday had raked in 630 million yuan ($88.2 million), shattering the previous Sept 30 record of 280 million yuan for the whole day in 2017.

The major blockbusters contributing to the box office record were three new releases-My People, My Country, The Captain and The Climbers-which all opened simultaneously on Monday.

Industry analyst Wu Nian said more than 80 film companies invested in the three blockbusters, which would provide a substantial boost to the recently lackluster market.

My People, My Country, a 158-minute anthology that saw seven renowned directors join hands, dominated the box office, grossing combined receipts, including presales, of around 270 million yuan, according to the live tracker Maoyan.

Consisting of seven short stories set in historic moments to look back at New China's 70 years of existence, the movie was codirected by Chen Kaige, Zhang Yibai, Guan Hu, Xue Xiaolu, Xu Zheng, Ning Hao and Wen Muye-who have all directed domestic hits or international award winners.

Chen, who served as chief director, said China has seen a huge transformation in the past seven decades.

As the painstaking efforts of several generations had contributed to the country's achievements, Chen said the team working on the movie had decided to use it to revisit milestone moments through ordinary people's eyes.

Chen's part of the film tells the tale of two brothers living in a village who witness the return landing of the capsule of the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft on Nov 18, 2016, a moment of national pride that touched the two youngsters.

Chen said astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, the crew on the 33-day Shenzhou XI space mission, appear in the film as themselves.

Other historic moments set as backdrops include New China's founding ceremony in 1949, the country's first successful nuclear test in 1964, the Chinese women's volleyball team winning its first Olympic gold medal in 1984, and the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.

Another highly anticipated film, The Captain, earned 194 million yuan to occupy second place on the box office charts.

Starring actor Zhang Hanyu, the film is based on heroic Sichuan Airlines pilot Liu Chuanjian, who completed one of the most miraculous emergency landings in China's civil aviation history.

On May 14 last year, Liu was the captain of an airliner heading from Chongqing to Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region. Around 40 minutes after takeoff, a piece of the cockpit windshield shattered, sucking his co-pilot halfway out of the plane.

With the temperature plummeting to-40 C and the plane losing its automatic control system, Liu, a former air force veteran, landed the plane in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, saving the lives of 119 passengers.

All the nerve-wracking moments are recreated in the film, along with some dramatic fictional additions.

Yu Dong, chief producer of the film, said the crew bought a lifesize replica of the airliner from a production company in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province.

Also adapted from real events, The Climbers grossed 157 million yuan on Monday.

With a stellar cast including Zhang Ziyi and Wu Jing, the film is about Chinese mountaineers' ascent to the summit of Mount Qomolangma, known in the West as Mount Everest, via its perilous north ridge in 1960 and 1975.

Wu Jing said the film filled a gap in the market, with sports-themed titles quite rare in the world's second-largest movie market.

To prepare for his role as the leader of the expedition team, Wu said he paid a visit to the snowy peak of Gangshika, over 5,200 meters above sea level in Qinghai province.

Aside from the three blockbusters, eight other films-covering a wide range of styles from animation to fantasy-will be released during the holiday ending on Oct 7.

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