Back to 1942, the latest film from director Feng Xiaogang (If You Are The One 2), shines a light on an overlooked part of Chinese history: a famine in 1942 that led to the death of 7 million people.
With a $34 million budget and a cast that includes Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins, expectations are high for Back to 1942. The drama will not have to open at the same time as any American films, but it will face tough competition from the current #1 film in China: Life of Pi.
Back to 1942 opens in China on November 29 and in North America on November 30.
After spending two weeks in first place, Hong Kong's Cold War has been toppled by two American films: Life of Pi and 2012 3D.
Life of Pi grabbed the top spot with $16.1 million. Ang Lee's latest is also of to a good start in Taiwan with $2.3 million and Hong Kong with $1.4 million.
After the success of Titanic 3D earlier this year, China asked for more 3D flicks. The result: 2012 3D, a converted version of Roland Emmerich's disaster film. 2012 3D debuted to a healthy $14.3 million this week. The converted version has not been released in North America.
Cold War dropped to third place this weekend with $7.6 million for a Chinese total of $36.7 million. The drama has earned $4.4 million in Hong Kong.
Wreck-It Ralph finished in fourth with $1.3 million for a total of $9.7 million. The Disney release is coming up short compared to other recent animated films such as Kung Fu Panda 2 ($95 million), Ice Age: Continental Drift ($73 million) and The Smurfs ($41.2 million).
Rise of the Guardians is also a disappointment. The holiday-themed flick rounded out the top five with $1.1 million for a total of $4 million.
Two State-owned film companies--China Film Co. Ltd and Shanghai Film Group Co. Ltd--are now in the final stages of approval before being listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
China Daily reports that China Film Co. will use raised money to build new theaters, while Shanghail Film Group plans to invest in distribution, production, media and technology,
China Film Biz's Rob Cain provides an excellent summary of the recent announcement that China's film authorities will reward subsidies to film companies and theaters in order to settle a dispute over profits. The new system goes into place on January 1, 2013. Here are some of the main points according to Cain:
For distributors of domestically made 3D and IMAX films
If a film grosses RMB 50 million to 100 million, a RMB 1 million bonus
If a film grosses RMB 100 million to 300 million, a RMB 2 million bonus
If a film grosses RMB 300 million to 500 million, a RMB 5mm bonus
If a film's box office gross surpasses 500 million, a RMB 10 million bonus
For theater operators
If at least 50 percent of a theater chain's total annual box office gross is earned from domestic films, 100 percent of fees paid during the year by the theater chain to the National Film Development Funds Management Committee (a straight 5 percent of every RMB of ticket sales) will be reimbursed to the theater chain.
If the percentage of box office earned from domestic films is between 45 percent and 50 percent, the NFDFMC will reimburse 80 percent of the fees a theater has paid to it.
If the percentage is below 45 percent, but the domestic film revenue is still more than last year's, the NFDFMC will reimbursed 50 percent of the fees.
More Indian films could be headed to China.
The Daily News reports that, "the two countries have of late found the 'strategic synergies' for a co-production treaty that aims to give national status to films from both the nations, and preference for screenings and shooting locations."
3 Idiots, the biggest box office hit of all time in India, grossed $2.9 million in China.