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Zhang Yimou’s $45 million Oscar contender “Curse of the Golden Flower” is shaping up to be China’s biggest pic ever after it scored a record-breaking opening weekend B.O. of 96 million RMB ($12,5 million).

China’s foreign-language Acad hopeful took in nearly $2 million on 826 prints within five hours of its Thursday bow, and its boffo weekend take beats the $9.6 million Chen Kaige’s “The Promise” made in its preem weekend last year.

“It is reasonable to believe that ‘Curse’s’ nationwide box office will … reach 300 million RMB ($38.4 million) shortly after the New Year,” Gao Jun, an executive from Beijing-based New Film Assn., told local media.

This would set it up to go head-to-head with James Cameron’s “Titanic,” still the most popular film shown in China after it set a B.O. record of $44 million in 1998.

Gong Li, Chow Yun-fat and Taiwan pop sensation Jay Chow star in the tale of an imperial family’s vicious decline.

Movie had a lot of help from the powers-that-be. State film authorities cleared the schedule of foreign and domestic openers to make sure no other pic muscled in on “Curse’s” bow.

Although Zhang gained his reputation as an arthouse helmer, he has developed a knack for gauging the desires of China’s growing cinema-going public.

His last big-budget outing, “House of Flying Daggers,” took in $7.9 million in its opening weekend off 360 prints, while “Hero” took $4.5 million. “Hero” still holds the local B.O. record for a Chinese film at $31 million .

Feng Xiaogang’s “The Banquet,” another Chinese blockbuster with many similarities to “Curse,” took $5.75 million in its opening weekend on 755 prints.

A Sony Pictures Classics release, film will open Thursday in New York and Friday in select U.S. cities.