Feng sets China boxoffice milestone

'If You Are the One' pushes director past $146 mil

BANGKOK -- Director Feng Xiaogang is the first Chinese director to earn more than one billion yuan at the boxoffice, his longtime production company Huayi Brothers said Thursday.

Pushing the 50-year-old Beijing native past the monetary milestone were hot ticket sales for the "If You Are the One," which features his longtime comic collaborator Ge You and actress Hsu Chi in a return to the romantic comedy genre for which Feng is best known.

As of Jan. 7, "One" had earned 310 million yuan ($45 million), swelling his Feng's earnings over since his directing debut in 1997 past the one billion yuan ($146 million) mark.

Huayi said the earnings from 700 film prints of "One" were greater than those for Feng's 2007 war pic "Assembly," which went out to 2,220 screens on 770 prints, earning about 250 million yuan ($36.6 million).

" 'One' reached fewer than 2,000 screens because of the number of films in competition, but we're doing well because it's Feng returning to what he's known for and there are stars to draw in viewers," director of international sales Felice Bee said.

Huayi also committed less to promoting "One," said Bee, spending 15 million-18 million yuan ($2.2 million-$2.6 million), compared with the more than 20 million ($2.9 million) spent to boost "Assembly" against Peter Chan's "The Warlords," which released at roughly the same time in 2007.

"Assembly," a film largely set in the Chinese trenches of the during the Korean War in the 1950s had less product placement than "One" a contemporary film about a man who finds romance answering online personals ads.

"One" was presold to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia by Hong Kong production partner Media Asia and Huayi is in the middle of discussions with Japanese distributors. Bee hopes to announce a deal just before the Berlin Film Festival.

Huayi hopes to attract European buyers at Berlin but does not have high expectations because, Bee said, the market for Chinese films had begun to drop off before the economic downturn.