The massive poster advertising Founding of a Republic carries the faces of China's biggest stars. Many of those taking part in the movie did so for free in celebration of New China's 60th birthday. The film is proving to be a blockbuster, raking in more than 330 million yuan in its first few days and heading for box office history. (Wang Jing/China Daily)
A film about the birth of New China is creating a revolution at the box office, where it is about to deliver new records.
The Founding of a Republic (Jianguo Daye), which tells the story of the fight between the Communists and the Kuomintang between 1945 and the year New China was founded, 1949, had raked in 330 million yuan ($48 million) by Sunday.
The epic movie is likely to break the box office record of 400 million yuan set by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, said Zhao Haichen, assistant president of China Film Group, which produced the picture.
During a screening at a film festival in Hong Kong this week, Zhao told reporters the State-owned company behind the film had released 1,400 copies.
Prior to the Transformers film, which hit theaters in July, the most profitable movie in China was Titanic, which was released in 1998 and grossed 360 million yuan.
With a star-studded cast of 172 that includes Jackie Chan and Zhang Ziyi, The Founding of a Republic cost surprisingly little to make - only 30 million yuan. That was because many of the celebrities taking part gave their services for free to celebrate the nation's 60th anniversary.
Many people say they went to see the film as part of their celebrations of the milestone year.
The great success of The Founding of a Republic left little room in theaters for other films during the eight-day National Day Holiday. The most successful of the other offerings was The Message (Feng Sheng), a spy thriller starring seven A-list stars, including Zhou Xun and Li Bingbing.
Produced by the privately owned Huayi Brothers Media Group, the film earned 150 million yuan in the 10 days following its Sept 29 premiere. It will hit theaters in Hong Kong and Taiwan in mid-October and mainland screenings will continue until the end of the month.
The romantic comedy My Fair Gentleman (Yaotiao Shenshi) has earned a respectable 13 million yuan.
And two art-house flicks: The Warrior and the Wolf (Langzai Ji) and The Wheat (Mai Tian) fared less well.
According to Bu Er, a box office analyst with Mtime.com, the former had raised only 2.4 million yuan in ticket sales by Oct 4. The latter took 6.3 million yuan.
None of the three animation films screened during the holiday took more than 3 million yuan.
China's film industry has enjoyed a remarkable rise in fortune in recent years, although the revenue seen in China is still small compared to the US market. According to the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV, the bottom line in China reached 4.3 billion yuan in 2008, a 30 percent increase from the previous year and an annual growth of more than 25 percent since 2002.
The gross in the US, by comparison, was $9.8 billion in 2008, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.