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Chinese War Film ‘Sacrifice’ Makes $11 Million Start in Cinemas

Chinese war film "Sacrifice"
Courtesy of China Film Group

War film “Sacrifice” got off to a heroic start at the China box office on Friday, likely setting the tone for another good weekend in Chinese cinemas, and a barrage of films in the same canon.

By 7pm local time on its opening day, “Sacrifice” had notched up RMB74.1 million, or $11 million at current rates of exchange.

First audiences appear to have shown their critical approval too. Early viewer feedback via cinema ticketing agency Maoyan gives “Sacrifice” an excellent score of 9.4 out of 10, while rival ticketing agency Taopiaopiao viewers scored it a notch higher at 9.5. The more thoughtful cinephile site Douban has not yet given it a score.

Taken together, the film’s early box office and approval ratings allowed Maoyan to forecast that “Sacrifice” could run on to score RMB2.5 billion or $373 million. It that transpires, it would make it one of the top-grossing films anywhere in the world this year. First day forecasts are subject to significant revision.

Nevertheless, “Sacrifice” has a lot going for it. It is directed by three of China’s most commercially successful helmers Guan Hu (“The Eight Hundred”), Frant Gwo (“The Wandering Earth”) and Lu Yang (“Brotherhood of Blades”). And it has all the production and distribution might of state-owned China Film Group behind it.

Wu Jing (“Wolf Warrior”), Deng Chao (“Shadow”, “The Mermaid”) star, along with several veteran of “The Eight Hundred” including Li Juixiao and Vision Wei. “Sacrifice” is pitched as a simple tale of Chinese soldiers attempting to repair a bridge, while under constant bombardment from U.S. forces and planes. The three directors present three different points of view of the Chinese bravery under fire.

Another factor giving “Sacrifice” a boost is the timing of its release. This is intended to coincide with a week of official events commemorating China’s role in the Korean War, which China knows as “The War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea.”

With patriotism the flavor of the moment among Middle Kingdom studios, several more Korean War films and TV series are scheduled to reach Chinese screens over the coming weeks.