'Founding' breaks weekend record
Chinese patriots chase American robots for top all-time slotBEIJING -- "The Founding of a Republic," China Film Group's Chinese revolution blockbuster, broke the all-time weekend boxoffice record for a domestic film, pulling in 100 million yuan (US$14.64 million) in its first three and a half days of release, state media said Monday.
The film was expected to take in 130 million yuan by 8 pm Beijing local time Monday, the Web site of Chinese Communist Party newspaper People's Daily reported. "Founding" has already overtaken John Woo's "Red Cliff" (part one) for the best opening weekend for a domestic Chinese film, and may eventually beat out the all-time box-office champion in China, this year's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."
"Founding" is now showing on 1700 screens, the report said, with some theater chains requesting more prints ahead of the Oct. 1 weekend, which marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China. The film celebrates the victory of the CCP in 1949. Oct. 1 kicks off a week-long public holiday in China, this year featuring a massive military parade in Beijing.
On Friday, the film set a record for a first day in China, pulling in 15 million yuan (US$2.2 million) in its first nine hours of release, China Film Group told local media Friday.
The film features 172 Chinese stars, including Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi, although those three have little more than bit parts.
If "Founding" goes on to set more records, it will be assisted by its large number of prints, little competition at the boxoffice, a massive promotional campaign and government support. Although late summer Hollywood movies are still officially in release, they have become suddenly scarce as China approaches Oct. 1 and the week-long public holiday that follows it.
The Web site for the UME Cineplex chain showed scheduled screenings for both "Up" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" on Friday, but a visit to the UME Shuang Jing six-plex in southeastern Beijing revealed them to be absent from the marquee. Cinema staff could not explain why the two Hollywood movies were not listed or available.
The government is also distributing about one million free vouchers for "Founding." In late August and earlier in September, every film shown in China was preceded by a trailer for "Founding."
Also, although no specific announcement has been made prior to the release of "Founding," anti-piracy efforts are often stepped up ahead of the debut of major domestic films in order to boost boxoffice receipts.