Zhang Ziyi Tops China Box Office With Romantic Spy Movie 'My Lucky Star'

"My Lucky Star"

Dennie Gordon is the first American woman to direct a Chinese feature.

The biggest draw at China's box office this week is My Lucky Star featuring top Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, but the spy-themed romantic comedy marks a breakthrough as director Dennie Gordon is the first American woman to direct a Chinese feature.

A prequel to the 2009 hit Sophie's Revenge, which featured Zhang in her breakthrough comedy role, My Lucky Star took in $1.71 million when it opened on Tuesday.

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The movie features Zhang as a cartoonist named Sophie who becomes involved with a mysterious man named David, played by Taiwanese heartthrob Wang Leehom. Sophie finds herself at the center of an international diamond heist, and increasingly drawn to David. Action takes place in Asian hotspots such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese mainland.

"Our goal was to make a real Chinese movie for Chinese audiences that would feel Chinese and be in Chinese, but it would have a specific Hollywood style -- because that would be something new," Gordon told local media.

Zhang came to international attention with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and features in Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster.

"I developed it with Zhang Ziyi and for Zhang Ziyi, and she wanted me to create a movie for her that Anne Hathaway might star in or Jennifer Lawrence might star in, or what Kate Hudson might have starred in 15 years ago. She really wanted to do something along those lines. She’d never done anything like that," Gordon said.

Gordon has previously worked on movies such as Joe Dirt  and What a Girl Wants, as well as TV shows such as The Office and 30 Rock.

She admitted there were challenges making the movie because she doesn't speak any Chinese, but she found comedy to be an "international language" and is currently preparing another movie in China.

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As well as starring in the movie, Zhang also produced, alongside Ming Beaver Kwei, Second Chan, William Cheng and Ling Lucas.

My Lucky Star is due for release in North America by China Lion on Sept. 20 in major metro areas including Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, D.C.