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Black Coal, Thin Ice crosses RMB100m

Black Coal, Thin Ice crosses RMB100m

By Kevin Ma

Thu, 17 April 2014, 10:50 AM (HKT)

Box Office News

The Beijing Film Market 北京國際電影節電影市場 opens today at a time when local film-makers are criticising the industry for focusing too much on commercial-minded films at the expense of originality.

One film that has found both critical acclaim and commercial success is DIAO Yi'nan 刁亦男's dark thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice 白日焰火 (2014) starring LIAO Fan 廖凡 and GWEI Lun-mei 桂綸鎂.

Huayi Brothers Media Corporation 華誼兄弟傳媒股份有限公司 announced on 9 Apr that the Berlin Golden Bear winner has passed RMB100 million (US$16.1 million) at the China box office after 20 days on release.

Once the mark of success in the Chinese film industry, RMB100 million is no longer considered high for a commercial film, with some blockbusters achieving that amount in a single day.

However, in an industry where a commercial film can occupy a third of all screenings slots on opening weekend, RMB100 million has often been an unattainable figure for small-scale films.

One previous "art film" to become a hit at the box office was WANG Quanan 王全安's White Deer Plain 白鹿原 (2012). Based on the popular novel, the epic drama — released in a shortened 156-minute version in China — made a surprising RMB133 million (US$21.4 million).

Black Coal was released in China in a slightly shorter edit than its Berlin cut.

While the two major prizes in Berlin played a role in Black Coal's commercial success, it's release was likely greatly helped by distributor Huayi Brothers, which has strong connections with cinema chains.

Black Coal will likely serve as a new textbook case on how small-scale art films can find wide acceptance in China.

International sales are handled by Fortissimo Films.

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