'Golden Flower' on record track


BEIJING ? Director Zhang Yimou's "The Curse of the Golden Flower," brought in 15 million yuan ($1.9 million) in the first five hours of its nationwide release, putting it on track to break Chinese boxoffice records, a cinema circuit executive said late Friday.

"Curse," China's submision to the 2007 Oscars, is under great pressure to recoup its $45 million budget, partly financed by Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong (HR 5/12).

The film, which tells the story of an imperial family's slow decline and stars Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi and Chow Yun Fat, opened nationwide on Thursday. Tickets in Beijing sold for a pricey 70 yuan ($8.75), nearly twice the national average (HR 12/14).

"It's reasonable to assume box office receipts will top 100 million in first week, and reach 300 million shortly after the New Year," Gao Jun, an executive at Beijing-based Xinyinglian cinema circuit told the Xinhua news agency.

"We are optimistic that the film will establish a new boxoffice record in China," Gao said.

China's boxoffice record holder in China is "Titanic" which brought in 350 million yuan ($44 million) in 1997, Xinhua said.