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Top 5 Grossing Movies in Mainland China

Wondering what’s making it big in China? The following is a list of top grossing Chinese movies in mainland China.

1. Let the Bullets Fly (2010) [让子弹飞] Directed by Jiang Wen and based on the real life story of the famous Sichuanese writer, Ma Shitu, the film is an action comedy film set in the 1920s, following the power struggle between a local town mobster and a roaming bandit. The movie grossed 730 million yuan (111.1 million USD) in the box office and is the the highest grossing domestic film in China’s cinematic history. The film will make it’s American debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring. More information and tickets here.

2. Aftershock (2010) [ 唐山大地震 ] Directed by Feng Xiaogan, the movie follows the journey of a family torn apart by the Tangshan earthquake in 1976 and reunited after 32 years in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. A highly emotional tearjerker, the movie draws upon the raw emotions left by the recent 2008 earthquake. As the top grossing movie in China, and among the first big commercial IMAX film created outside of the United States, it earned 673 million Chinese yuan (approx 103 million USD) in the Chinese box office. It also won the Best Feature Film and Best Performance by Actor for one of the main characters, Chen Daoming, at the 4th annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards and was selected as the Chinese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards[

3. The Founding of a Republic (2009) [建国大业] Directed by Huang Jianxin and Han Sanping, the film was made by a state-owned film group called China Film Group to commemorate China’s 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The film’s plot is exactly as the title indicates: it follows the early years of the republic, with renown actors playing Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-Shek and other top political leaders. The presence of popular actors in the film increased its appeal to a larger and younger audience than a historical film of this nature would normally have garnered. The film grossed 420 million yuan (approximately 64 million USD) in the box office, making it the third highest grossing domestic film in China’s history.

4. If You Are The One and If You Are The One II (2008, 2010) [ 非诚勿扰, 非诚勿扰II] Also directed by Feng Xiaogan (of Aftershock — seriously, how talented is this guy? He’s got three movies in the top five category!), this movie and its sequel are both romantic comedies following a wealthy entrepreneur who decides to set aside his bachelor ways and advertises for a potential partner online. The first movie chronicles his meetings with outrageously strange candidates and the sequel centers around his relationship with his much younger and exceedingly beautiful hostess girlfriend. Both movies grossed over 350 million yuan (over 64 million USD) and are part of Feng Xiaogan’s repertoire of hugely successful films.

5. Red Cliff (2008) [赤壁] Directed by John Woo, this one rounds out the top Chinese movie genres with an epic war drama based on the Battle of the Red Cliffs (208-209 AD) and the end of the Han Dynasty. Needless to say, if you are a history buff, this movie is a must-see. The movie itself is about 4 hours long and was released in two parts. The second half of the movie appears to have been less popular than the first half, which grossed 321 million yuan in the box office.

Top grossing foreign movies in China include: Avatar (2010; 1.38 billion yuan), 2012 (2009; 466 million yuan), Inception (2010, 457 million yuan), and Transformers (2009; 455 million).

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