The Flowers of War

  • The Flowers of War box office
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  • Directed By: Yimou Zhang
  • Written By: Heng Liu, Geling Yan
  • Release Date: January 20, 2012
  • Domestic Distributor: Wrekin Hill
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Xinyi Zhang

Box Office Info:
Budget: $94 million Financed by: New Pictures Film
Domestic Box Office: $311,434 Overseas Box Office: $97,000,000 (estimated)

The budget for The Flowers of War was $94 million and in 2011 it was the most expensive Chinese production and the picture was designed to reach a large global audience.  It was financed by Zhang Weiping’s New Pictures Film and the Chinese government and state owned banks.  Christian Bale was an unknown in China and in a press conference announcing the start of production and the casting of Bale, his face was superimposed over the face of known actor Leonardo DiCaprio — to show that Bale is going to be bigger than DiCaprio.  The following day the Chinese press had numerous stories about Bale being bigger than DiCaprio.

While promoting the picture in China, which was given a no expense spared marketing campaign, Christian Bale attempted to visit a blind dissident, Chen Guangcheng, who had his village sealed off for bringing attention to forced sterilizations and abortions because of the One Child Policy.  The government hired to thugs to stop any activists or journalists from entering the village and Bale was recorded by CNN being assaulted.  The Chinese government then claimed Bale was fabricating propaganda and that he would not be welcome in China if he continued.  He went ahead with his PR tour and defended the movie against charges that it was a melodramatic propaganda piece.

New Pictures Film successfully lobbied to increase the price of cinema tickets only for The Flowers of War, since it was the most expensive film, to offset the usual Chinese theater take of 55% and the distributors take of 45%.  This would roughly get the company an additional 2% of the gross.  The picture pulled in a huge $95 million in China, but after theaters take their percentage of the gross, the P&A and budget would still be in the red.

The Flowers Of War had little to no interest from the rest of the world.  FilmNation handled international sales and the small label distributor Wrekin Hill acquired US rights.  The US market outright rejected the film with only $311,434 in box office sales.

The film pulled in about $2 million from the rest of the movie watching world.  The Flowers of War was dumped straight to video in major markets like France, Germany and Italy.

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