Box Office Report: Christian Bale's 'Flowers of War' Already Top-Grossing Chinese Film of 2011

46 REV The Flowers of War Christian Bale H
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Based on a historical novel by high-profile Chinese writer Yan Geling and scripted by Liu Heng, "Flowers" is a conscious bid to make the horrifying story dramatically accessible by placing a politically unaligned American in the middle of a desperate group of convent schoolgirls and courtesans.

The historical epic, directed by Zhang Yimou, has earned nearly $70 million in China since opening two weeks ago.

Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War, with Christian Bale headlining, is doing big business in its home country, where it's already become the top grossing Chinese film of 2011.

Through Dec. 29, the movie has grossed $66 million (400 million yuan) at the Chinese box office, where it's competing with Jet Li action pic Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Flowers of War, about the Japanese invasion of Nanjing, opened Dec. 16.

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

Hollywood tentpoles are the top two earners overall -- 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.

Among other Hollywood movies, 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.

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Flowers of War will pass Pirates this weekend, and has a shot at overtaking Kung Fu Panda 2.

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 China's official submission for the Oscar for best foreign language film, and is being distributed in the U.S. by Chris Ball's Wrekin Hill Entertainment.