Local films reign across China as Beijing looks to the future with new festival

It's been another big week for Chinese cinema with the news breaking that Beijing will next year hold its first major film festival while two local productions have been slugging it out at the box office and keeping the Hollywood blockbusters at bay.

The inaugural Beijing International Film Festival will run from April 23-28 next year with organizers saying they hope the event will help "build Beijing into a global city and capital of film in the East", according to a report in Film Business Asia ( http://www.filmbiz.asia).

Careful not to tread on the toes of the Shanghai International Film Festival - held each June and slowly establishing itself now as a force on the international film circuit - the Beijing event will not include any awards but will still stage "a red carpet ceremony, industry forums, a trade show, a project market, three music concerts and public screenings of both local and foreign films."

The move comes as further evidence of the growing weight of Chinese cinema - something again reflected in the box office returns over the past week which saw the Chen Kaige-directed drama "Sacrifice" pick up 98 million yuan (11 million euro) to December 12, while the comedy "Just Call Me Nobody" picked up 71 million yuan (eight million euro) for second spot.

That meant for the second week in a row it was third and fourth positions for " Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" and "Resident Evil: Afterlife."

What's more, there are big hopes locally for the release of the star-studded "Let The Bullets Fly" which stars Jiang Wen (who also directs), Chow Yun-fat, Ge You and Carina Lau and makes its debut Thursday.

Japan also saw a locally produced film top the charts again - but only just.

The sci-fi actioner "Space Battleship Yamato" picked up US$4,693,005 (3,547,031 euro) to edge out the latest "Harry Potter'' effort, which managed US$4,556,213 (3,443,642 euro).

But  "Harry'' has now grossed US$52.5 million (39.6 million euro) over four weeks in Japan, while "Space Battleship Yamato" has collected US$21 million (15.8 million euro) in two weeks.

Hong Kong cinemas were dominated by " The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" which opened across more than 90 screens and picked up close to US$2.5 million (1.9 million euro) for its efforts. And it was a similar story across South Korea, as the film grossed US$5.3 million (four million euro) in its first week, to December 12.

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