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August 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Just two weeks after it was released, director Feng Xiaogang’s Aftershock has broken box office records for a Chinese film with $79 million in ticket sales. The film, which cost $20 million to produce — one of the highest budgets ever for a Chinese film — recreates the devastating earthquake that struck the northern Chinese city of Tangshan in 1976, killing more than 240,000. Produced by the Huayi Bros., China’s leading privately-owned film production company, it is the first Chinese movie converted to the IMAX format. [IMAX said on Monday that it has identified China as a principal growth market and plans to open IMAX cinemas not only in major cities in the country but also to develop “mobile cinemas” using inflatable domes that can bring IMAX to rural areas of the country.] The official state news agency Xinhua reported Monday that the film has drawn criticism from parents who have complained that the earthquake scenes, depicting crushed houses, horribly injured survivors, and mangled bodies frightened their children. Two of the principal characters are seen as children, one of whom loses an arm; the other is presumed to have been killed but survives. “The complaints have renewed calls for reform of China’s film approval system,” Xinhua said. “Many critics want a system like the one in Hong Kong, where movies are classified into three major categories in terms of suitability for children.” (While officially a part of China, Hong Kong exists within a “one country, two systems” framework.)