Mainland China geared up to welcome the latest offering from its favorite native son, Zhang Yimou, whose “Curse of the Golden Flower” preems Thursday in Beijing.

The pic, which is China’s contender for the foreign-language Oscar, has been given much play around town, with huge billboards featuring a gray-bearded Chow Yun-fat along the airport road, and posters covering bus stops.we

Expectations are running high that “Golden Flower” can join the small club of movies by Chinese helmers that have achieved B.O. of more than 100 million yuan ($12.5 million). That list includes Zhang’s own “Hero,” as well as “Kung Fu Hustle” by Stephen Chow, “The Promise” by Chen Kaige and “A World Without Thieves” by Feng Xiaogang, who helmed the year’s other big-budget historical epic, “The Banquet.”

Latter pic took in a reported $6.9 million in its opening weekend and pic’s distributor, Beijing New Picture Co., is confident that “Golden Flower” will take at least $6.4 million in its opening weekend.

Cast members including Gong Li and Chow, are tipped to be among the A-listers at the bow, while Taiwanese talkshow host Jacky Wu and controversial former CCTV sports commentator Huang Jianxiang are expected to attend a grand opening party hosted by the Beijing Film Studio.

Top Taiwanese warbler Jay Chou, who stars in the pic, has written a song to accompany the movie, local media reported.

The local papers are concerned about ticket prices, as preview tickets in September went for more than $12, a huge amount in China. The big cinema chains in the capital have agreed to charge around $9 a ticket, according to one local paper.

Beijing New Picture Co. said it was still not clear how many prints of “Golden Flower” would be sent out, as the number had yet to be finalized.