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Red Cliff II to premiere earlier than planned
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The sequel to "Red Cliff", a popular Chinese war epic, will debut on Jan. 7, 15 days ahead of schedule.

The China Film Group Corp. (CFGC), distributor of the film, made the decision after discussion with cinema managers in six cities including Beijing and Shanghai, the Beijing News reported on Friday.

The first installment of the two-part series, adapted from the Chinese classic novel, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", debuted in Asia on July 10.

It made about 320 million yuan (US$46.85 million) within a month, the paper said.

"I am confident that the second episode will beat the first one at the box office," said Weng Li, spokesman of the CFGC.

Directed by John Woo, the cast features Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhang Fengyi.

"Red Cliff" has an investment of 80 million U.S. dollars.

The story revolves around the Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD. It involved a famous military underdog victory as the 50,000-strong allied forces of southern warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan defeated 800,000 troops of the northern warlord Cao Cao.

The largest scenes involved 2,000 actors and crew, along with a wide range of special effects.

The period from December to early February, known as prime pre-Lunar New Year film season, is usually the busiest time of the year at China's box office. It's when many domestic films debut.

Advancing the screening date is a common practice during the season. "If You Are the One", a work of famed director Feng Xiaogang, debuted on Dec. 18, four days earlier than scheduled.

Besides "Red Cliff", another 11 movies are set to premiere next month.

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