Christian Bale's 'Flowers of War' Grosses $83 Mil in 17 Days in China

"The Flowers of War"
New Pictures Film Co. Ltd.

Schoolgirls race home through bombed streets.

The historical epic, directed by the renowned Zhang Yimou, is already No. 6 all time in the country.

Zhang Yimou's ambitious historical epic The Flowers of War, starring Christian Bale, has grossed $83 million at the Chinese box office to become the sixth biggest release of all time, including American tentpoles.

And Flowers of War is already the third highest-grossing Chinese film ever, as well as the top grossing Chinese film of 2011.

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Flowers of War, China's official submission for the Oscar for best foreign language film, reached $83 million after only 17 days in release. It's been competing with Jet Li action pic Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Until Flowers of War, the No. 1 Chinese film of 2011 was Beginning of the Great Revival, which grossed $62 million.

Hollywood tentpoles were the top two earners in 2011 -- Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen grossed a massive $145.5 million in China, followed by DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Kung Fu Panda 2 with $92.2 million. Both films had the advantage of higher 3D ticket prices.

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Among other 2011 American event pics, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides eared $71.8 million China, while Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 grossed $63.6 million.

The top grossing film of all time in China is Avatar, which collected $204 million.

Costing $100 million to produce, Flowers of War is the most expensive Chinese production in history and was fully financed by Zhang Weiping's New Pictures Film Co. It's one of the first times that a Western actor has played the lead role in a Chinese production of this size.

Bale's recent dust up with Chinese security guards when trying to visit blind activist Chen Guangcheng haven't hurt the movie. Bale attempted to met with Chen days after attending the premiere of Flowers of War in Beijing.

Flowers of War is being distributed in the U.S. by Chris Ball's Wrekin Hill Entertainment.