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Christmas crackers

By Leng Mo (Global Times)

14:43, December 01, 2011

Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War

With a tally this year so far of 11 billion yuan, announced by Tong Gang, director of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, 2012's end-of-year revenue is expected to reach 13 billion - meaning an extra 2 billion over the Christmas period.

Over 20 films are scheduled to screen this December - the most in any month - and the majority are expected to be high-profile domestic blockbusters, such as Zhang Yimou's controversial The Flowers of War and 3D hit Flying Swords of Dragon Gate which both open on the same day, 16th December.

Starring Christian Bale, Flowers of War (originally known as Nanjing Heroes) adapted by screenwriter Liu Heng from Yan Geling's classic novel 13 Flowers of Nanjing, is said to be the most expensive Chinese film ever made, with its Hollywood production team costing 600 million yuan - leading to a public altercation over cinemas' alleged price ramping to recoup costs.

Set in 1937 Nanjing, China's then-capital, after the Japanese invaded, Bale plays an American priest who helped protect Nanjing citizens, including schoolgirls and prostitutes, from the subsequent Japanese massacre.

The film has been shrouded in mystery - the lead actresses are a secret while shooting took place on the outskirts of Nanjing, with media access forbidden. Confirmed as China's official Best Foreign Language Film entry for the 84th Academy Awards, Flowers of War is likely to be China's biggest international film for years.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film can be submitted in other Oscar categories, including acting and directing, after its American release.

US company Wrekin Hilll Entertainment, in association with Row 1 Entertainment, has bought North American distribution rights, scheduled for release in late December.

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