'Founding' breaks Chinese record

Propaganda pic earns $60 million at box office


BEIJING -- Propaganda epic "The Founding of a Republic" has become China's most successful domestic film of all time, earning $60 million in B.O. so far, and the state-run China Film Group hopes to build on the pic's success with a sequel, called "The Founding of a Party."

"The Founding of a Republic" has been a phenom in China -- a propaganda film that people actually wanted to see, although whether they would go again to see a film about the birth of the Communist Party remains to be seen.

The pic, which is co-directed by Han Sanping, head of China Film, and Huang Jianxin, mixes blatant propaganda with strong and often very sophisticated drama.

Pic still trails the all-time B.O. record set by "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" earlier this year, but has overtaken Feng Xiaogang's "If You Are the One," which took $47 million last year.

China Film Group issued about 1,400 copies of the movie. China had nearly 4,100 screens at the end of 2008.

It documents the key moments in contemporary Chinese history 60 years ago, when Chairman Mao Zedongs scruffy band of revolutionary warriors overcame Chiang Kai-sheks Nationalist KMT to establish the worlds most enduring Communist revolution.

Pic includes a massive cadre of top movie stars, including action heroes Jackie Chan and Jet Li, actors Leon Lai, Donnie Yen and Gou Ye, actresses Zhang Ziyi, Zhao Wei and Miao Pu, plus a host of helmers and comedy stars.

Up until yesterday, according to incomplete statistics, The Founding of A Republic has earned around 410 million yuan now. The film has indeed done really well, said Weng.

The Chinese government also protects local films by The timing of the release was great, coinciding with the National Day holidays, and the content was appropriate for the holiday too.

It is a win-win film regarding entertainment and Chinese culture, said Weng.

The group was watched a lot by groups, presumably patriotic students and outings of Communist Party cadres. The big draw overall was probably the presence of over 170 of Chinas top stars.

Patriots will now be watching out to see if the pic beats Revenge of the Fallen. It would be the patriotic thing to do.

By CLIFFORD COONAN | 8374 Yucca Trail | CA 90046 West Hollywood, U.S.A
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