The patriotic epic The Founding of a Republic took in an estimated HK$1 million on its opening day yesterday, a box office record for a mainland film opening in Hong Kong. Early box office receipts for the star-studded film, which recounts Chinese history from 1945 to 1949, when the Communist Party defeated the Kuomintang to establish the People's Republic of China, were promising. The film opened at 37 screens yesterday. Noon shows took HK$67,000 at the box office, and 2.30pm shows took HK$190,000. Before the film opened, HK$800,000 worth of group bookings from schools and various societies had been made for local screenings. John Chong Ching, chief executive of the film's Hong Kong distributor, Media Asia Entertainment, estimated that The Founding of a Republic's opening day box office receipts would top HK$1 million. He said it was an unexpected success for a national film showing in Hong Kong. 'It's even better than many Hong Kong films,' he said. 'But I think the success is largely due to the fact that the film opens right on National Day. It wouldn't be as successful if the film opened before or after National Day.' Chong said that apart from the all-star cast - which features 172 stars from Hong Kong and the mainland playing cameos, including Andy Lau Tak-wah as a Kuomintang officer, Jackie Chan as a Hong Kong journalist, Jet Li Lianjie and Zhang Ziyi - the celebratory atmosphere of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic had also encouraged people to rush to catch the film. Chong said he expected it to easily make more than HK$5 million at the Hong Kong box office.