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Assembly to screen in the UK
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London-based film distributor Metrodome has acquired theatrical rights to Chinese director Feng Xiaogang's latest blockbuster, Assembly, and will screen it this spring, the Shanghai Youth Daily reported.

This is the first time that a non-kung fu Chinese movie has widely hit British cinemas.

Metrodome also picked up the UK rights for Feng's 2006 all-star production The Banquet, and plans to roll it out after Assembly.

A distribution director of Huayi Brothers film company, Ms. Bi, told the newspaper that Metrodome cemented the deal by offering the highest price among four British distributors. Assembly cost about 20 percent more than The Banquet, she said, but refused to reveal the exact figures.

"Metrodome signed the contract with us at the end of last December," Bi said. "Assembly made such a high income at Chinese box offices that western media covered it a lot. So they wanted to take the chance to make an early theatrical release."

Wang Zhonglei, president of Huayi Brothers, said the international distribution of the movie has brought in some two million US dollars from French, Russian, Korean and British buyers.

"Both Feng Xiaogang and I were surprised to see its popularity among foreign distributors, as it is not an action movie," said Wang. "We didn't expect this reaction from the international market, because there was no precedent of any Chinese war movie being sold to foreign countries. But I got positive feedback when I talked with the distributors in the U.S."

Assembly tells the story of a soldier who seeks recognition and honor for his fallen comrades in the Chinese civil war of the 1940s.

The Banquet, starring actress Zhang Ziyi, is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" set in ancient China.

(CRI January 20, 2008)

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