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Last Updated:  Monday, 13 January, 2003, 15:22 GMT
Zhang movie breaks China record
Hero
Hero is the most expensive Chinese film ever
Martial arts epic Hero became the biggest-grossing Chinese film just one month after its release.

Director Zhang Yimou's movie tells the tale of Emperor Qin Shihuang's campaign to unify China more than 2,000 years ago.

After one month on release in China Hero had taken 200 million yuan (15m) at the box office, according to studio estimates.

Its popularity has been boosted by an all-star cast including Crouching Tiger, Hidden dragon actor Zhang Ziyi and Maggie Chueng and Tony Leung from In the Mood for Love.

There is also a starring role for Jet Li, who has successfully made the transition from martial arts movies to Hollywood films.

Hero is the most expensive ever made in China, costing 19.3m to produce.

Director Zhang is famous for such films as Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern.

China's biggest movie to date is Hollywood disaster movie Titanic, starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet, which took 320 million yaun (24m).

Propaganda

The three-hour film was shown in two parts on its release in 1997, often with audiences having to buy two tickets to watch the entire film.

The previous record for a Chinese movie was held by Live or Die, a propaganda film released in 2000 as part of a crackdown on corruption, which took 120 million yuan (9m).

But Qin Lixin, deputy general manager of Beijing New Picture Film, the producers of Hero, said Live or Die benefited from groups of government workers being taken to screenings.

Hero has provoked critical acclaim and is China's entry for the best foreign film Oscar.

But because it will not be released in the US until later in the year it will not be eligible for any other Academy Awards.

As well as the success at the Chinese box office, Hero will also recoup money through selling the rights abroad.





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