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Warlords reaps nearly 200 mln yuan in box office
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Following an average daily gross of 16 million yuan (US$2 million) in its first two weeks of release, the Chinese war epic "The Warlords" is expected to reap more than 200 million yuan by January, making Peter Chan the second homegrown director to achieve such box office after Zhang Yimou.

Actors Andy Lau, Xu Jinglei, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jet Li and director Peter Chan (from Left to Right) attend a press conference of the movie "The Warlords" premiered in Beijing, Dec. 6, 2007.

Released nationwide on December 13, the film has already raked in 160 million yuan despite fierce competition from other blockbusters such as Feng Xiaogang's military drama "Assembly" and Wong Kar Wai's star-studded "My Blueberry Nights".

"Warlords", based on a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) story, follows the struggle of three blood brothers for a woman during a time of war and political upheaval.

The movie was also doing great in other Chinese-speaking areas, according to Yu Dong, president of the film's distribution company Poly-bona.

It topped the Hong Kong box office in its first week, well ahead of Will Smith's US blockbuster "I Am Legend". In Singapore, it took in about 13 million yuan, a rarity in the island country's cinema history.

"Now Zhang Yimou is the only member of the '200 million yuan club'. With Chan coming along, he won't feel lonely anymore," said Yu, adding it was only a matter of time before "Warlords" achieved this number.

Shaanxi Province native Zhang directed such award-winning films as "Raise the Red Lantern" (1991), "Hero" (2002), and last year's blockbuster "Curse of the Golden Flower".

A record 1,027 copies of "The Warlords" -- 650 film copies and 377 digital copies -- were ordered for its mainland screening.

According to director Chan, nearly half of the film's US$40 million budget was spent on the cast, which featured Chinese action star Jet Li, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau, heart-throb actor Takeshi Kaneshiro and Beijing-based actress Xu Jinglei.

In 2005, Chan entered the mainland market with the musical romance "Perhaps Love". Though hailed by critics, the film only grossed some 30 million yuan.
(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2007)

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