Chinese war epic The Eight Hundred tops global box office

The Eight Hundred stars Wang Qianyuan (left) and Jiang Wu (right).
The Eight Hundred stars Wang Qianyuan (left) and Jiang Wu (right).PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

BEIJING • Chinese war drama The Eight Hundred has become the world's top-grossing movie so far this year after it overtook previous champion Bad Boys For Life.

Bad Boys For Life, the third instalment in the Bad Boys trilogy, was released in January and starred Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

The Eight Hundred, which was released in China on Aug 21, earned more than 2.91 billion yuan (S$590 million) as of Monday, surpassing Bad Boys For Life's US$425 million (S$580 million).

The Eight Hundred is believed to be the first Chinese-language film to top the global box office.

The movie is also showing in cinemas in Singapore and has grossed more than $242,000 as of Tuesday.

Directed by Guan Hu, who is best known for the 2015 film Mr Six, The Eight Hundred is based on true stories and depicts the Chinese soldiers' defence of a warehouse against the invading Japanese army during the Battle of Shanghai in 1937.

Despite being outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy, a battalion of around 400 soldiers, dubbed The Eight Hundred Heroes, held out against numerous waves of Japanese forces for four days and four nights.

"The Eight Hundred is ultimately about a nation and its people coming together during a time of unprecedented crisis," said Guan, 52, in a press release. "It's a universal story that has a renewed relevance in these current times."

The movie, with a production cost of more than 550 million yuan, starred actors such as Wang Qianyuan, Jiang Wu and Zhang Yi.

The Eight Hundred, shot entirely with Imax cameras, is China's first major theatrical release since local cinemas reopened in July following months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese movie-ticketing and film data platform Maoyan estimated that The Eight Hundred will gross more than three billion yuan after it ends its run in China.

The film currently boasts a rating of 9.2 points out of 10 on Maoyan and a rating of 7.7 on Douban, a review platform.

The Eight Hundred hit the big screen in limited theatrical release in North America late last month and was released in Britain last Wednesday.

The film currently ranked ninth on the Chinese box office chart which covered all films screened in China, according to data compiled by the China Movie Data Information Network.

The 2017 blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2, starring Wu Jing, currently topped the Chinese chart with 5.69 billion yuan.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2020, with the headline 'Chinese war epic The Eight Hundred tops global box office'. Subscribe