Chinese blockbusters set to hit the big screens this summer

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The Independent Culture

Chinese cinema is preparing to enter the big leagues this summer with two potential blockbusters about to take on Hollywood at its own game.

First up comes director Feng Xiaogang's 135 million yuan (16 million euro) epic Aftershock - a tear-jerker set around the horrific events which surrounded the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China, which claimed around 250,000 lives. The film is set for release on July 22 and its producers are in talks to have it open on around 4,500 cinemas across the nation.

Not to be outdone, director Benny Chan is releasing his City Under Siege on August 8 - a 100 million yuan (11.8 million euros) thriller that is billed as China's first 'monster movie'.

Both films are aiming for major box office results - Feng has boldly predicted a return of more than 500 million yuan (59 million euros) for his - and have invested heavily in Hollywood-style special effects, rather than opt for the cheaper options available.

Feng has this week been working the publicity rounds and drawing attention to the fact that he enlisted help of visual effects experts from South Korea, French post-production touch-up experts Technicolor and the people at New Zealand's Weta Workshop, who won multiple Oscars for their work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

City Under Siege, meanwhile, shows what sort of nasty things can happen to normal human beings when they play with biochemicals. It's the first Chinese film to feature "mutants'' - and director Chan turned to help to Thai make-up experts, who for years have been advancing the cause of movie monsters and ghosts both at home and in Hollywood on projects such as Lord of the Rings and The Hulk.

Just how Chinese audiences will react to blockbusters of the home-grown variety remains to be seen but test screening of Aftershock, for one, have been promising.

And the cast of Feng's films are certainly saying all the right things. After a special screening of Aftershock in Hong Kong on Saturday, female lead Zhang Jingchu said she was on set often moved to tears.

"I've played plenty of tragic characters, but none of them influenced me as much as this one.''

Watch the trailers:


City Under Siege: