The biggest movie screen in China, as big as a basketball court, was recently set up at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium. It's part of a competition, not in sport, but at the box office. It claims to be the grandest premiere ever held in China, that of Chinese veteran director Feng Xiaogang's war epic film "Assembly", which premiered in Beijing on Tuesday night, December 18. It received an overwhelmingly joyous response from ten thousand audience members.
Cast members of Assembly including (from left to right)Wang Baoqiang, Liao Fan, Tang Yan, Li Naiwen, Deng Chao and Zhang Hanyu attend the ceremony held at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium on Tuesday night, December 18.
The premiere was studded with more than just stars. Over one hundred celebrities including lead actors Zhang Hanyu and Deng Chao, and comedy stars Zhao Benshan and Fan Wei were invited to walk the red carpet. Hosted by Zhang Guoli, Feng's best friend, the ceremony invited actresses cooperating with Feng Xiaogang, from Xu Fan to Fan Bingbing, to give their heartfelt wishes for the success of the new film. Even super Korean pop group Shinhwa flew in from Shanghai to perform at the ceremony. After the performance section, a soldier appeared on stage and blew the assembly call, meaning the movie screening would commence.
Hosting such a movie premier at Beijing Workers' Gymnasium sounds like mission impossible for it is not designed to do so. For this reason the host, the Huayi Brothers Media Group, invited a famous sound-effects team to solve the problem, making the movie sound better than in the theatre.
The traditional assembly call is a signal to start battle in wartime, around which the plot of the film is centred. But this call also evidenced the producer's desire to win the nation's year-end box office battle. Director Feng tells media he is confident that box office income will exceed 150 million yuan, or 20 million US dollars.
Director Feng Xiaogang gives a speech at the ceremony held at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium on Tuesday night, December 18.
The film is based on a true story: a company of soldiers were ordered to fight until they heard the call to assembly. But the call never came and everybody died, except one. Years later, the lone survivor started searching for the remains of his fallen comrades, trying to prove that they all died as real heroes.
Such a touching story did reach to the bottom of audiences' hearts. Many of them wanted to see it again with their families. Mrs Xu, a loyal fan of Feng Xiaogang, is one of them.
"After seeing the movie, I am deeply moved. Many people sacrificed their lives for our current beautiful life. We should cherish today's hard-earned life and respect these real heroes."
The film will open to Chinese audiences from December 20.
(CRI December 19, 2007)