John Woo's 'Red Cliff' bows big in Asia

War epic earns $15.8 mil in China

SHANGHAI -- John Woo's period war epic "Red Cliff," at $80 million the most expensive Asian film ever made, scored a record-breaking weekend across six Asian territories, earning 108 million yuan ($15.8 million) in its first weekend in China, according to the China Film Group.

In Hong Kong, local hero Woo's two-part film continued its boxoffice dominance for distributors Mei Ah and Edko, earning HK$10,585,000 ($1.36 million) from Thursday-Sunday on 60 screens, the Hong Kong Kowloon & New Territories Motion Pictures Industry Assn. said.

"Red Cliff" grossed nearly twice what Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" earned in its four-day Hong Kong opening weekend in 2000 before going on to become the highest-grossing Chinese-language film ever released in the U.S.

Made with international backing and a star-studded, Pan-Asian cast including Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro, "Red Cliff" also raked it in in Singapore, where Daniel Yun, CEO of MediaCorp. Raintree Pictures, predicted the film will best most Asian epics from recent years.

Distributor Scorpio East scored a Friday-Sunday take of S$1,029,290 ($761,000) from 47 prints, topping the Singapore boxoffice.

"Red Cliff" sold 20% more tickets there than the first weekend of Peter Chan's "Warlords" in December. It also earned more than Zhang Yimou's "Curse of the Golden Flower" and Lee's "Crouching Tiger" when they opened in the Southeast Asian city state.

In China, "Red Cliff" -- Woo's first film made in China since 1992's "Hard Boiled" -- earned a record-high 27 million yuan ($3.9 million) on Thursday, its opening day, CFG said. This broke the previous opening-day record in China, held by "Transformers," which took in 22.4 million yuan ($3.3 million) in its July 2007 China debut.

Karen Chu from Hong Kong, Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop from Singapore and Alicia Yang from Shanghai contributed to this report.