Is China Stacking The Deck For Movie?
Days after director Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower opened with the biggest box-office take in China's history, some Western reports are questioning the role of China's exhibitors in producing the record. According to state news reports, Flower, which reunites the director with actress Gong Li after ten years, earned about $12 million during its first weekend and was expected to break the record of $45 million set by Titanic in 1996. Shanghai Daily quoted the manager of one local theater as saying that he has been using most of his screens for the film, presenting 20 screenings every day. But the British trade publication Screen Daily said such policies were producing the record inasmuch as they blocked competition from other films. One distributor, Beijing Polybona Film Distribution, claimed that theaters were breaking a guarantee to show its Confession of Pain beginning December 22 and thereby had "broken the principle of fair competition and monopolized the market." Still other Chinese news reports expressed indignation that the film had been snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association when the group announced its Golden Globe nominees for foreign-language films last week.