'Let the Bullets Fly' Is China's New Homegrown Box Office Champion

The 1920s Eastern Western has passed 'Aftershock.'


BEIJING -- Let the Bullets Fly is the newest all-time No. 1 Chinese- language film at the box office, industry estimates showed on Thursday.

The 1920s Eastern Western by actor-director Jiang Wen, backed by Emperor Motion Pictures of Hong Kong, has surpassed Aftershock, the earthquake disaster film by Feng Xiaogang and Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Media, independent market consultant EntGroup said.

On Sunday, Jan. 16, Bullets had sold tickets worth 641,740,000 yuan ($97,428,990) Beijing-based EntGroup said, citing data it collects from theaters with computerized ticketing systems -- a pool made up of about 97% of China's roughly 2,000 theaters.

Producers at director Jiang's Beijing Buyilehu Film Co said that by Tuesday, Jan. 18, Bullets had surpassed Aftershock's gross sales, which EntGroup data showed totaled 647,775,000 yuan ($98,341,360) in all of China's theaters from July 19-Sept. 19, 2010.

With Bullets set to screen 3,030 times on Thursday at computerized theaters nationwide, charging at least 30 yuan ($4.55) and more often 80 yuan ($12.15) or more, EntGroup analyst and senior communications manager Wang Yi told The Hollywood Reporter China had a new homegrown boxoffice champion.

"For sure, Let the Bullets Fly has by now surpassed Aftershock at the box office," Wang said.

Thursday's planned screenings of Bullets, starring Jiang and leading actors Ge You and Chow Yun-fat, accounted for 13.2% of the 22,938 screenings of the 26 movies currently in release at computerized theaters nationwide, EntGroup said.

Being toppled from its No. 1 spot atop the all-time Chinese-language box office ranking added insult to the injury Aftershock suffered on Wednesday when it was cut from the nominees for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Academy Award.

Sitting well above both Aftershock and Let the Bullets Fly is Avatar, from Twentieth Century Fox, China's all time overall box office king having grossed $207 million last year.

China's box office rose 64% in 2010 to hit $1.47 billion and a surge in wealth and theater building has made the territory the biggest outside the U.S. for four Hollywood blockbusters in the last 14 months: 2010, Transformers 2, Avatar and Alice in Wonderland.