Chinese blockbusters set for US release
Chinese cinema is preparing to take on Hollywood at its own game with two homegrown blockbuster releases lined up this summer.
The first release is director Feng Xiaogang’s 135 million yuan epic Aftershock – a tearjerker surrounding the horrific events of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China which claimed around 250,000 lives. Its date of release is 22 July and the movie’s producers are planning to have it screened in around 4,500 cinemas across the United States.
Just as highly anticipated is director Benny Chan’s City Under Siege due to be released on 8 August. The movie is a 100 million yuan thriller that is billed as China’s first ‘monster movie’.
Both movies aim to reap major box office earnings – Feng has boldly predicted a return of more than 500 million yuan for his – and have invested heavily in Hollywood-style special effects, rather than opt for cheaper options available.
Feng has been making the rounds for publicity and drawing attention to the fact that he enlisted help from visual effects experts from South Korea, French post-production touch-up experts Technicolor and the people at New Zealand’s Wea Workshop, who bagged many Oscar awards for their work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
City Under Siege shows the nasty things that can happen to human beings when they toy with biochemicals. It’s the first Chinese film to feature “mutants”, and director Chan had help from Thai make-up experts, who have worked in the field of ghost and monster movies both at home and in Hollywood on projects such as Lord of the Rings and The Hulk.
It remains to be seen whether Chinese audiences will respond favorably to blockbusters of the homegrown variety but a test screening of Aftershock has shown great promise.
The cast of Feng’s films are certainly showing their approval. After a special screening of Aftershock in Hong Kong on a previous weekend, female lead Zhang Jingchu said she was often moved to tears on set.
“I’ve played plenty of tragic characters, but none of them influenced me as much as this one.” Zhang reportedly expressed.