Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"The Message" Rings Out Loud and Clear at Box Office

The National Holiday period at the start of October is traditionally one of the peak movie-going periods in China. This year was especially prosperous for the movie industry, with record box office takings raked in. The better than usual performance was generated by two films in particular: the spy drama and whodunnit The Message (风声, pinyin: Fēngshēng) and The Founding of a Republic (建国大业, pinyin: Jiàn Guό Dàyè). The Message was the biggest drawing movie over the holiday period - its box office receipts from its opening on 29 September up until 8 October were a reported 150 million yuan, or about $US22 million.

The Message, set in 1942 during the Japanese occupation of the mainland, stars two of China's best-known actresses, Zhou Xun (周迅) and Li Bingbing (李冰冰), alongside Zhang Hanyu (张涵予) and Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明) as a particularly nasty Japanese interrogator. It's based on a best-selling novel of the same name.

Meanwhile The Founding of a Republic, which was released two weeks before The Message continues to roll on its merry money-making way (see this earlier blog post), and is now officially the biggest grossing local film of all time. It has pulled in a total of 350 million yuan at the box office, overtaking the previous number one, the romantic comedy If You Are the One. Both The Message and The Founding of a Republic performed well enough to feature on Screen Daily's top ten global box office list - and it wouldn't be too often that two Chinese films have managed to achieve that feat.

As well as proving a popular hit, The Message has also won praise from some (but not all) critics. It recently gained 6 nominations at the upcoming Golden Horse Awards, including Best Actress nominations for both Zhou Xun and Li Bingbing. Probably not surprisingly, the Taiwan-based Golden Horse Awards instead ignored The Founding of a Republic, which celebrates the victory of the Communists over the Nationalists on the mainland.

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