'No Man Land' directed by Ning

SINGAPORE – A nihilistic thriller that fell afoul of China’s censors, “No Man’s Land” opened strongly in China on Tuesday.

Directed by celebrated up-and-coming director Ning Hao, the film picked up RMB19.5 million ($3.19 million) in its opening day. It plays on more than 30% of screens nationwide and had a high anticipatory score on information and booking site Mtime.

While not a record, the “No Man’s Land” opening is strong for a non-holiday, non-weekend release. And it defies earlier suspicions that the Chinese authorities were trying to bury the troublesome film by releasing it against bigger titles in the crowded December period.

“No Man’s Land” (which has also gone under the titles “No Man Land” and “Western Sunshine’) was shelved for more than three years after its black humor and anti-authoritarian attitudes drew the ire of at least one member of the Film Bureau.

It tells the story of a lawyer who drives to the deserts of China’s far west and on his way back encounters a multitude of characters, from strippers to smugglers to murderers.

“No Man’s Land” stars Xu Zheng, Huang Bo and Yu Nan and was produced by DMG Entertainment among along with China Film Group.

The opening day score is almost double that of the recent Hong Kong actioner “The White Storm,” which earned $1.71 million, while “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” earned $410,000.

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