Feng pic is most successful local movie ever

Chinese helmer Feng Xiaogang’s “After Shock” has broken box office records to become the most successful Chinese movie of all time.

By last weekend, the disaster pic had taken 532 million yuan ($78.6 million), smashing the record set by “Founding of a Republic,” directed by Sanping Han and Jianxin Huang, which took $60 million last year.

“After Shock,” about a family during and after the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in Hebei province that claimed 240,000 lives, took $5.35 million on its opening day on July 22, nearly $30,000 more than James Cameron’s “Avatar” did in January. However, “Avatar” ended up taking $190 million in China.

“After Shock” has particular resonance since the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, which left 87,000 dead or missing, and April’s Yushu quake, which killed more than 2,000 people.

Pic is showing on 4,000 screens and is the only major film playing right now.

This success further cements Feng’s reputation as China’s most bankable helmer. His previous hits include “If You Are the One,” which took $48 million in 2008, war epic “Assembly” (2007), Zhang Ziyi starrer “The Banquet” (2006) and zippy comedy “Cell Phone” (2003).

Feng has often complained of his frustration at being unable to break into foreign markets, but has said he is happy to concentrate on the booming China biz for the time being.

China’s B.O. looks set to hit $1.5 billion this year, up 61% on the previous year. Local fare makes up over half the market.

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