Long-limbed drama is surprisingly moving without being a simple tearjerker.
Loosely-built drama of three youngsters and a retired opera singer is deceptively impressive.
The China rom-com goes global, with great chemistry between leads Xu Jinglei and Stanley Huang.
Super-slick Valentine's Day movie misses the natural charm of the TV series that inspired it.
The Flowers of War
Good-looking but dramatically weak Nanjing Massacre drama, with a miscast Christian Bale.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
Enjoyably retro swordplay antics, with a superb cast but a weak finale.
Go! Lala Go!
Glossy tale of a career girl's rise benefits from actress-director Xu Jinglei's offbeat lead performance.
Love Is Not Blind
Charming, unpretentious rom-com boosted by subtle chemistry between its leads.
Survival-game horror quickie is poorly written but okay on a throwaway thrills level.
Derek Yee's I Am Somebody to open Shanghai
China-Russia co-production to close event
Osaka Asian Film Festival fixes largest line-up
Spotlights on Hong Kong, Taiwan and SE Asia
Fleet of Time clocks John Woo epic in China
The Crossing opens second-placed in Taiwan
Johnnie To breaks hearts on Singles' Day
Career-best opening day in Mainland China
Mainland cinema's new maturity
Films by debut directors among highlights of 2013
Police Story leads second weekend at China B.O.
Up in the Wind fourth-placed
Korean cinema, Chinese characteristics
Is the future of South Korean cinema in China?
China's genre revolution
Uncharted waters of the Mainland's movie renaissance
So Young enters China's all-time top ten
Local films take 7 of 10 top spots
Bullet, War lead HK Awards nominations
Close race for top titles
China takes reigns of Horse Awards
Beijing Blues wins top prize in Taiwan
Marrakech to honour Zhang
Chinese film-maker rewarded
Mainland films lead Golden Horse race
Mystery and Beijing Blues shortlisted
Dhoom:3 set as India's first 3-D feature
Action franchise on giant screens from 2013
Principle selected as HK Oscar bid
Award winning fable released in Oct last year
Changchun awards 1911
Ning Hao's Guns and Roses wins three prizes
Resurrection takes China BO record
Bunshinsaba remake makes $5m in first week
Apple seeks bite of Asian content market
Legal, virtual stores launch leaves out China, India
Flying Swords to get US IMAX release
Martial arts picture shot in native 3-D
Asian films make N American progress
Modern themes connecting with audiences
Simple Life tops HK awards
Speeches warn of HK industry peril
Unspoiled Brats and Fresh Wave define Udine
To, Pang and Zhang return for 14th edition of Italian festival
Separation wins Asian Film Awards
Deanie Ip also continues her winning streak
Flying Swords lifts Bona Group results
Chinese studio helped by distribution and internet
Zhang flowers as Berlin celebrity
Chinese mega-hit gets red carpet treatment
Bullets still flying at HK Film Awards
Films by Jiang Wen and Tsui Hark receive 13 nominations each
White Deer is Berlin's dark horse
Wang Quanan's epic family drama closes competition lineup
Swords flying on IMAX screens
Action drama becomes top Chinese giant screen title
Swords joins Berlin competition
3-D action film gives festival extra dimension
AFA nominations headed by Greater China mega titles
South Asia titles in supporting role, South Korea almost edited out
Flowers US release brought forward
New date sets opening before Oscars
Apple has bite of China box office
Flowers and Swords both cross RMB500m
China box office up 29% for 2011
Second half growth keeps revenue on upward track
Flowers passes box office milestone
Zhang epic rates as 2011 top Chinese film
Taiwan distribs queue for China quota
Flowers, Skin and 1942 among likely recipients
Hong Kong Xmas BO down 20%
Hollywood sequels occupy top four slots
Flowers widens lead on Swords
Chinese films dominate China box office
Asian films in scores race
Six pictures in Oscars chase
Flowers of War wins opening battle
Updated: Sector 7 takes record as China's highest grossing South Korean release
Asian blockbusters head for Berlin
Competition's first films unveiled
China BO crosses RMB12b in 2011
Bale takes on China's leaders as Flowers and Swords go head-to-head
Asia scores in Globe nominations
Flowers gets pre-Oscar nomination
Wide IMAX release for Flying Swords
Native 3-D production will have screens to itself
East Meets West tops China BO
Tintin and Apes cross RMB100m and RMB200m respectively
Love stronger than Steel
Chinese comedy opens on $30m
Flowers plucked by US newcomers
Zhang Yimou film to get Oscar qualifying run; director rewarded by APSA
Busan West reveals selection
Old and new travel to Orange County
Rooster calls for Space Dream
Patriotism trumps popularity at annual awards
China picks Flowers for Oscar
Zhang war epic gets token Beijing run
Buyers get taste of Zhang's War
Footage screened in Toronto
Huayi expands film to TV
Series to start shooting this month
Flying Swords joins IMAX rush
Giant screen version to show in 3-D
Zhang wraps Nanking movie
Christian Bale starring war drama set for Dec release
Zhang sets heroic budget for Heroes
East West tale has something for everyone
Zhang's Nanjing epic finds sales company
FilmNation to handle Christian Bale war movie
Beijing Screenings highlights trends
Lineup includes recent horror, comedy and festival favourites
Production underway on Zhang's Flowers
Nanjing-set epic features Bale, top tech crew
Zhang brings Bale back to China
Hollywood star to appear in $90m Flowers of War
IYATO 2 gets Christmas US release
Romantic comedy in co-ordinated distribution
Golden Horse opens with romance
Festival includes tributes to Weerasethakul, Kon and Rohmer
Li, Tsui reunite for new Dragon picture
Production underway on 3-D martial arts action film
Bong, Jia and Côté form Vancouver's Asian jury
Dragons & Tigers competition announces eight from first-time directors
Toronto adds Asian dozen
Further top titles added to World Cinema section
Exhibitors make peace with War
By Stephen Cremin
Thu, 24 November 2011, 17:30 PM (HKT)
Going to the cinema in China will become more expensive in December after exhibitors agreed to raise the minimum ticket price of ZHANG Yimou 張藝謀's war epic The Flowers of War 金陵十三釵 (2011) to RMB40 ($6.29) in major cities. Previously, the highest minimum price for a local film was RMB35 ($5.50).
December is set to be a crucial month at the Chinese box office after the disappointing National Day Holiday takings two months ago. As budgets soar, Chinese producers are putting increasing pressure on cinemas to return higher box office income to cover their investment risks.
Flowers is one of the year's most-anticipated films in China. It has an official budget of RMB600 million ($94.4 million), the largest in Chinese film history, and stars Christian BALE as a foreigner who saves Chinese lives in wartime Nanjing in December 1937.
In an interview with web portal Beijing Sina Internet Information Service Co Ltd 北京新浪互聯信息服務有限公司 in October, producer ZHANG Weiping 張偉平 (pictured) stated, "In the past, we had to beg the theaters to play our films. But this is a different time now. I will let them beg me to screen the movie because I can guarantee that their screening rooms will be crowded."
But local exhibitors balked at Zhang's demands that they set the minimum ticket price to RMB40 and reduce their after-tax share from 57% to 55%. It was claimed by a media commentator on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog, that the top eight cinema chains had threatened to boycott the film in response to the demands.
After the film was screened to exhibitors yesterday, they agreed to the RMB40 minimum ticket price in major cities but maintained their 57% share after tax. It is estimated that tickets to Flowers will cost as much as RMB100 ($15.71), in what is already one of the world's most expensive cinema-going countries.
Earlier this week, Zhang told sina.com, "First of all, we only raised the minimum ticket price by RMB5, so where is the RMB100 price coming from? Second, in terms of revenue sharing, the distributor is taking 45% and the cinemas are taking 55% after taxes. They're taking the majority, yet the risk lies with me."
Zhang argued that audiences should support the ambitions of the local industry with higher ticket prices: "The Flowers of War is the most expensive film in Chinese history. It's 145 minutes long, 40-50 minutes longer than a typical local film. That means this is an enhanced product, which naturally means a higher ticket price."
Producers of TSUI Hark 徐克's 3-D action fantasy Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 龍門飛甲 (2011), who have moved its release two days forward to open head-to-head with Flowers, have themselves asked cinemas in China to return a minimum of RMB35 ($5.50) per admission, a precedent set by local blockbuster Aftershock 唐山大地震 (2010).
Also opening next month is XU Jinglei 徐靜蕾's thriller Dear Enemy 親密敵人 (2011), currently scheduled on 23 Dec. Xu starred in Eternal Moment 將愛情進行到底 (2011), the third highest-grossing local film of the year. Her most recent film as a director, romantic comedy Go! Lala Go! 杜拉拉升職記 (2010), made RMB124.5 million ($19.6 million).
There has been a series of surprises at the Chinese box office in 2011 that has increased producer uncertainty. The number one film at the box office last week is comedy Love Is Not Blind 失戀３３天 (2011). It has taken US$45 million in 13 days, outperforming Real Steel (2011) and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011).
Other unexpected hits at the box office this year include drama Buddha Mountain 觀音山 (2010) and horror Mysterious Island 孤島驚魂 (2011), starring FAN Bingbing 范冰冰 and Mini YANG 楊冪 respectively, that made RMB69.3 million ($10.9 million) and RMB90.0 million ($14.2 million) on release in March and July.
Original English translation of Zhang Weiping's statements — and reporting — are by Hong Kong-based industry observer Kevin MA 馬樂民.