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‘Transformers’ makes history in China

Paramount sequel breaks box office record

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” has broken China’s box office record with receipts of 400 million yuan ($58.5 million), sinking the $52.7 million record held by “Titanic” since 1998.

China Film spokesman Weng Li said the Michael Bay movie racked up $44 million in the first 12 days after its release on June 24. The first installment of the franchise made $37 million in China in 2007.

Pic was given a wide release on thousands of screens in the absence of any other big pics. China had about 4,100 screens by the end of 2008 and the numbers are growing fast as orgs invest in theaters to feed growing demand.

Locally produced pics have started to perform well in recent years, with epics such as John Woo’s “Red Cliff” scoring big in China.

It’s been a good summer for Hollywood despite the quota system, which means only 20 or so foreign pics are released here each year.

“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” which opened May 26, became the first overseas pic to earn more than 100 million yuan ($15 million) at the box office this year in mainland China, quickly followed by “Terminator Salvation.”

“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” are still in release.

“Twilight” opens in August, as does Disney-Pixar’s “Up,” which is expected to be released on more than 200 3-D screens.

The way is being cleared for the year’s biggest movie in China, “The Great Cause of China’s Foundation,” a propaganda extravaganza celebrating October’s 60th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China after the revolution of 1949.

“I’m confident this film will do quite well,” said Weng.

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