Russia's 'Stalingrad' Storms Chinese Box Office

Stalingrad - H - 2013
Alexei Timofeyev

The controversial WWII epic has taken $8 million since its release last Thursday, the best opening ever for a non-Chinese, non-Hollywood film in China.

MOSCOW -- A controversial 3D depiction of World War II's greatest clash between Hitler and Stalin has become the highest-grossing Russian release ever at the Chinese box office.

Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad has taken $8.3 million since its release in China last Thursday on 7,136 screens, including 123 in Imax 3D, according to distributors Sony Pictures Releasing International.

STORY: 'Stalingrad' Has Record-Breaking First Week in Russia

That makes it the best-ever start for a non-Chinese and non-Hollywood film in the country.

The figure means the film, made on a $30 million budget, is already north of $55 million in total box-office receipts. It added $2.6 million at the domestic Russian box office over the weekend, bringing its local total to $47.7 million.

"The success of Stalingrad is a convincing testament to the fact that an alliance between Russian filmmakers, Imax technology and Hollywood studios can create films that will be appreciated by audiences in multiple markets," said Alexander Rodnyansky, producer of Stalingrad. "We are very grateful to our partners at Sony China for the incredible marketing campaign that they mounted in support of our film and to our partners at Imax Corporation."

Russia's submission for the best foreign language film Oscar, Stalingrad has proven controversial on home turf, where an online petition is underway to have it banned on the grounds that it is too soft in its portrayal of German soldiers and historically inaccurate.

The battle of Stalingrad, which took placed between August 1942 and February 1943, when German forces under Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Red Army, cost the lives of more than 470,000 Russian troops; there were as many as 850,000 Axis (Germany and its allies, Romania and Hungary) troops killed, wounded or missing.

Of the 91,000 German troops who surrendered and went into captivity, 27,000 were dead within weeks and only between 5,000-6,000 returned home as long as 10 years after the end of the war in 1945.