'If You Are The One 2' Gets Dec. 24 US Release

"Aftershock" director Feng Xiaogang's sequel bows two days after China run begins.

Updated 11 am Beijing Time

BEIJING -- If You Are the One 2, by Aftershock director Feng Xiaogang will be the first Chinese film ever to release in North America almost simultaneously as it premieres at home, marking a milestone in China’s push to raise its movie industry profile around the world.

On Christmas Eve, China Lion Film Distribution is set to release the second installment of the comedic on-again-off-again love saga starring Ge You and Shu Qi in 20 AMC and Cineplex Theatres in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, all cities with significant Chinese populations.

That's two days after the Huayi Brothers Media picture is set to release in China with 486 prints, but is still significant for Chinese filmmaking because the nation’s rapidly growing industry has had little commercial success exporting its films to the world’s No. 1 box office territory, where annual ticket sales are roughly 10 times those in China. 

China is home to the world’s fastest-growing movie market, where box office grosses jumped 86% in the first half of 2010 to hit 4.84 billion yuan ($727 million), and are expected at year’s end to shatter the 2009 record of $909 million, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. 

The last Chinese film to make a splash at the U.S. box office was director Zhang Yimou’s Hero, which debuted at No. 1 in 2004 and went on to gross nearly $45 million for distributor Miramax.

Feng’s If You Are the One 2 is the second North American movie release for China Lion. The company was established earlier this year by former Australia and New Zealand distributor and Village Roadshow CEO Milt Barlow and president and majority shareholder Jiang Yanming, a Beijing-based industry veteran who used to work for Technicolor in China.

China Lion recently engineered the North American release of Feng’s Aftershock, the number one grossing homegrown Chinese film of all time and China’s submission to the Academy for consideration for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

About the legacy of the devastating 1976 Tangshan earthquake, Aftershock was the first IMAX film ever made in a language other than English. Due to a scheduling conflict, Aftershock did not release in IMAX in the U.S. 

Barlow said Aftershock opened on 24 screens in North America and placed fifth in a field of 15 films released Halloween weekend in late October. Total grosses for the film were not immediately available but industry estimates show its North American receipts totaling less than $100,000.

Director Feng’s original If You Are the One grossed about 350 million yuan ($52.6 million) in 2008 to become China’s biggest box office hit, until his own Aftershock took that title grossing more than 660 million yuan ($100 million) earlier this year. Feng is the first Chinese director whose films have grossed more than $1 billion in aggregate sales.