State media today reported that Zhang, who has a string of art-house and commercial hits dating back to the 1990s and who directed the spectacular Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies in 2008, could be fined RMB7.3 million (US$1.19 million) for having three children.
He and actress Chen Ting have two sons and a daughter born between 2001 and 2006, before they formally got married in 2011 in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
An agency investigating the case and assessing Zhang’s income calculated the fine on Saturday.
In order to control its huge population, China has long applied strict policies that limit the number of children a couple may have and others which tie families to specific locale through ‘Hukou’ or family books.
The cases of several officials and celebrities who have broken the rules has angered the Chinese public.
Zhang is unlikely to contest the penalty which is considerably lower than some recent press speculation and amounts to little more than an expensive slap on the wrist.
He has however made several comments denying that he has been given any kind of privileged treatment over the years and suggested that if he had benefitted from special treatment he would have been able to complete his hukou registration many years earlier than 2011.