Fresh records being set at Chinese box office

The Asian cinema industry has gathered for the 15th Pusan International Film Festival here this week and while there's been plenty of pomp and fanfare, one bit of news trickling in has stopped everyone in their tracks.

The Chinese presence here has been impressive, from the films screening as part of the festival program to the media pack that has come to see the likes of director Zhang Yimou and actress Tang Wei.

Organizers said going into the event that China's growing presence as a film market itself was an important consideration and with box office figures from the country just in, that's looking like a pretty smart statement.

The talk of the town has been that China's National Day holiday - a week-long celebration that ran from October 1 to 7 - collected a record 280 million yuan (30 million euros), which is a year-on-year rise of 12 percent.

Leading the way were two all-star productions which have been searching for international distributions deals in Busan this week - Tsui Hark's actioner Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame and the John Woo-produced Reign of Assassins.

Tsui's film - starring Hong Kong's Andy Lau and Carina Lau - has now taken around 140 million yuan (15 million euros) since opening on September 29, while Woo's film, featuring Michelle Yeoh, took 30 million yuan (3.2 million euros).

The Hollywood thriller Inception has now topped 400 million yuan (43 million euros) after picking up 50 million yuan (5.4 million euros) during what the Chinese know as "Golden Week."

Detective Dee also continued to rule in Hong Kong over the weekend ending October 10, picking up US$312,296 (223,822 euros) for a total now of US$1.1 million (788,000 euros), while in Japan the film about a dive rescue team, Umizaru 3, picked up US$6.5 million (4.6 million euros) and has taken in almost US$70 million (50 million euros).

MS

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