Curse of Golden Flower Premiered in China
December 15, 2006 3:30am CST
The hottest ticket in Beijing Thursday evening was the gala premier of Chinese director Zhang Yimou's 45-million-dollar epic Curse of the Golden Flower, but neither the director nor the two main stars was there. Producers poured over 50 million yuan (US$6 million) into Thursday's gala. They expanded the film's set of a royal palace by six times its original size and invited more than a thousand guests to the worldwide premier, which was being broadcast across the nation. Director Zhang Yimou missed his own premier as he was in New York where he was directing his original opera The First Emperor. The film's female lead, Gong Li, also passed on attending the premier to be with her gravely ill mother. Male lead, Chow Yun Fat, was in production on a Hollywood movie and also couldn't attend the premier. Luminaries from China's film and television industry, including the film's other female lead Zhang Ziyi, walked the red carpet into the palace-set-turned theatre. They were the first to see the epic, which tells the story of an imperial family's slow decline and feature vast battle scenes between the sons of the reigning emperor and empress. Producer Zhang Weiping, chairman of the Beijing New Picture Edko Films, who has worked with Zhang since 1996 expects the China box office to top 300 million yuan (US$37 million), while he has high hopes that overseas box office will reach US$100 million. It has also been confirmed that the state film agency will allow Curse of the Golden Flower to be submitted to the 'Oscars' in the hope it will be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Chinese director Feng Xiaogang's The Banquet has also been submitted in the hope of being nominated for an Oscars. The premiere was hosted by Guo Degang, one of the country's hottest stand-up comedians and He Jiong, a well-known television anchor and Jay Chow performed a song from the movie. Curse of the Golden Flower is director Zhang's third martial art epic following his House of Flying Daggers in 2004, and Hero in 2002, both of which were box-office hits. Hero's box office of 250-million-yuan is still a record take for Chinese-made films in China. Thursday's gala premier and the first public screenings of the movie are happening simultaneously. The 13 cinemas in Beijing running the film have been sold out. Curse of the Golden Flower will be released worldwide on Dec. 22.