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Creators of 'Cloud Atlas' hope to win over China

By Zhang Rui  (

10:02, January 17, 2013


Three directors of the epic "Cloud Atlas" announced they will attend the film's Chinese premiere in Beijing, hoping to get a more positive response with Chinese audiences as the film has so far bombed elsewhere.

"Cloud Atlas," a 2012 German sci-fi drama, was directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, creators of "The Matrix" trilogy, and Tom Tykwer, director of "Run Lola Run." It is reported the three directors have sent invitations to the star-studded cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant, hoping to join forces with them at the Beijing premiere on Jan. 20.

It's rare for three big directors to jointly direct one film. Due to their individually hectic schedules, they have only appeared together a handful of times for the film's promotion. But the Wachowski siblings have been paying attention to the Chinese market. "China is an extremely large market and has been obtaining more and more shares on the global market. 'Cloud Atlas' contains plenty of Chinese elements, so Chinese audiences are the people par excellence to examine their contents."

While Hollywood veterans like Tom Hanks and Halle Berry played multiple major roles in the film, Chinese actress Zhou Xun also took on three small parts in the film.

The film premiered on September 9, 2012, at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival and was widely released on October 26, 2012. The film's budget eventually reached a massive US$102 million -- a sum to which a Chinese company also contributed. -- making "Cloud Atlas" one of the most expensive independent films of all time.

"Cloud Atlas" is based on the 2004 novel of the same title by David Mitchell. It consists of six nested stories from the remote South Pacific in the 19th century to those set in a distant, post-apocalyptic future. The roles and stories are intertwined, carrying the themes of fate, love, courage, karma, nirvana, metempsychosis and reincarnation.

However, the film's commercial results have not been that epic. Its global box office earnings have come to just US$71.12 million so far, a huge disappointment, according to Box Office Mojo. And "Cloud Atlas" has polarized critics, with some like Roger Ebert praising it for being "one of the most ambitious films ever made," and others panning it outright such as Slant Magazine's Calum Marsh, who called it a "unique and totally unparalleled disaster."

The filmmakers are now hoping to find a more positive reaction to the movie in China, as the people here may understand more about the oriental philosophy and religious concepts portrayed in the film.

"Cloud Atlas" will hit Chinese screens on Jan. 31.

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