A record 1,027 copies of "The Warlords", a war epic set in the 1870s, have been released to Chinese cinemas for it mainland debut this week.
The 40-million-USD blockbuster, which was premiered on Wednesday, hit the general market on Thursday, one day ahead of schedule as "cinemas nationwide had impatiently demanded it", said Zhang Xiaosong, manager of the promotion department under the China Film Group (CFG), one of the distributors.
Zhang was confident about its box-office success as preview screenings of the film had drawn a "sound reaction" from the media and cinema managers. A record 650 film copies and 377 digital copies were ordered after the screenings.
"The Warlords" is an epic about three blood brothers and their struggle amid war and political upheaval. It is based on "The Assassination of Ma", a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) story about the killing of General Ma Xinyi.
Zhang said tickets sold out extremely quick on Thursday. He attributed the initial success to "breakthrough acting", "brand-new scenarios", and strong distribution.
Nearly half of the film's budget was spent on its strong cast. Chinese action star Jet Li was reported to rake in 100 million yuan from his role, a record for an actor in a Chinese-language film.
Also in the cast is Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau, heart-throb actor Takeshi Kaneshiro and Beijing actress/director Xu Jinglei. It is slated for release in North America in March.
"It is mainly targeted at a Chinese-language audience," said Peter Chan, the film's 45-year-old Hong Kong director, in a press release.
(CRI December 14, 2007)