China delays tentpoles for propaganda pic bow

'Great Revival' bows to tepid B.O.

BEIJING – China’s latest propaganda pic “Beginning of the Great Revival,” a history of the Communist Party, has seen solid if unspectacular box office receipts, chalking up 116 million yuan ($18 million) in the five days to June 19.

Helmed by Huang Jianxin and Han Sanping, and produced by state film company the China Film Group, “Revival” is a companion piece to 2009’s “The Founding of a Republic,” about the 1949 revolution, which earned $61 million.

“Revival” is being shown on more than 7,800 screens in nearly 1,700 theaters across the country, and nearly three million people have seen the movie, said China Film Group deputy general manager Lai Shen.

“Beginning of the Great Revival” is part of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s 90th birthday celebrations.

The film features 170 stars, including Hong Kong thesps Chow Yun-fat and Andy Lau, and follows events leading up to the founding of the Party in 1921.

Pic has had a patchy history so far. Communist purists were up in arms over a scene in which Chairman Mao Tse-tung is given a gold Omega fob watch by his girlfriend, which hardly seems revolutionary behavior.

It’s likely that there will be a late, government-sponsored push to boost the movie.

The government has already delayed the local premieres of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” until “Revival’s” success is assured.

In the meantime, companies are doing their patriotic duty by taking their employees to see the pic.

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