China's 'Revival' Takes over $16 Million in First Five Days

Propaganda film competes with 'Kung Fu Panda 2.'

BEIJING – China’s latest big propaganda movie, The Beginning of the Great Revival accounted for half of the nation’s current box office but lagged its 2009 prequel, The Founding of a Republic, state-run media said on Thursday.

In its first five days in theaters, nearly 3 million Chinese paid to watch the star-studded film celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), buying tickets worth more than 105 million yuan ($16.15 million) as of Sunday, distributor China Film Group (CFG), told the official Xinhua News Agency.

Even as the film starring Chow Yun-fat and Fan Bingbing alongside Liu Ye as a youthful Mao Zedong competes with DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 2 -- which set a new record for biggest opening a few weeks ago -- CFG expects the movie to set a new domestic box office record, Xinhua said.

Sales of tickets to the film known in China as The Founding of a Party accounted for more than 57% of the country's current box office, Lai Shen, CFG’s deputy general manager in charge of distribution told Xinhua, adding that the film was being shown on more than 7,800 screens in nearly 1,700 theaters nationwide.

It is common practice in China for state-run companies to buy tickets to distribute to their workers, a practice that is likely to be repeated in the run-up to the July 1 CPC anniversary.

Xinhua reported that “insiders” expect Revival to reach an audience of 30 million people, but industry analysts are doubtful.

Indeed, Revival's opening was slower than its prequel, the 2009 release The Founding of a Republic, which CFG Chairman Han Sanping also co-directed. 

Founding, released to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, raked in 125 million yuan in its first five days in theaters, finally attracting 13 million ticket buyers for gross sales of 420 million yuan.

After China, Revival will be released in the United States, Canada, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and at least five other markets, Xinhua said.

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