Communist propaganda pushes out Hollywood
Hollywood blockbusters including Transformers 3 and Cars 2 have been pushed back on mainland cinema schedules to make way for the Communist Party's latest propaganda film. The Founding of a Party, set to premiere across the mainland on June 15, marks the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party on July 1.
The new film boasts 107 cast members, including Hong Kong's Chow Yun-fat and John Woo.
The 70 million yuan (HK$83.9 million) film is expected to rake in nearly 800 million yuan - a record for a mainland film - but it will not be challenged by the usual summer invasion of US blockbusters, according to Gao Jun, spokesman for the New Film Association, one of the mainland's main cinema chains.
'The cinemas are confident that the movie will set a new box office record because Hollywood blockbusters have been scheduled for screening in late July,' Gao said.
The film has become a national event, with nearly 20 provincial and municipal propaganda departments involved in making it, he said.
Other screening slots this month will be filled by other propaganda films and a smattering of overseas movies that will not be popular enough to threaten the box office performance of The Founding of a Party, according to the Beijing-based Legal Evening News.
Most overseas films scheduled to screen this month will not come from Hollywood, it added.
The mainland's current box office champion is last year's Let the Bullets Fly, which grossed 700 million yuan. Another propaganda film, The Founding of the Republic, which marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, netted 420 million yuan at the box office two years ago.
The Founding of a Party, which started shooting in August, has seen no shortage of controversies, ranging from the sidelining of Lust, Caution star Tang Wei , to having that icon of American capitalism General Motors as a main sponsor. (Many of its stars will get to ride in chauffeur-driven Cadillacs).
Tang's minutes on screen were slashed and her name removed from the final cast list released last week. Tang, 31, plays Tao Yi, Mao Zedong's first lover. There have been suggestions her role was cut back because of objections by Mao's grandson, Mao Xinyu, that Tang's appearance would damage his grandfather's reputation because of the notoriety she earned for her character's steamy love scenes in Lust, Caution.
According to the official introduction, the film shows how Mao Zedong and his comrades 'sacrificed everything for their country'.