Sacrifice, a film made by top Chinese directors and actors to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) army's entry into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53), grossed more than 100 million yuan ($15 million) in box office on its first day, putting it on course to become one of the top-grossing movies of the year.
The film was released on Friday, the day Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech to commemorate the war, rather than on the weekend. But its box office performance proved that Chinese audiences eagerly want to see a movie about the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, as they feel rising patriotism from the commemoration of the war and amid current China-US tensions, observers said.
The Chinese public has sensed rising hostility and bias from the US government. The 70th anniversary of the war has created an atmosphere in which the Chinese people want to see a victory against the US in cinemas, and by watching the film, they can pay their respects and gratitude to the martyrs and veterans of the war.
A Shanghai resident surnamed Jiang, who watched the film with her husband, told the Global Times on Friday that "it was very impressive and touching. Some of those soldiers who sacrificed were just 16 or 17 years old, just like my son. I should have brought him to watch the film to let him know the peaceful life that we enjoy today was extremely hard-won."
A staff member of a Beijing-based cinema surnamed Wu said, "Today is a working day but it still attracted a lot of people, and more than one-third of our tickets were sold during daytime. After this weekend, the box office will see a sharp rise."
Observers predicted that the film is likely to become the top-grossing movie of the year. The box-office record is held by Eight Hundred, another war film which grossed $460 million this year.
Guan Hu, director of both Sacrifice and Eight Hundred, told reporters on Wednesday that "My mother is also a veteran of the war who was sent to Korea in 1952 when the war was at its fiercest, so I also felt responsible to make this film" and "use a modern narrative to tell the Chinese people today about how we won that war 70 years ago."
The film's production team is made up of China's top directors and actors. Aside from Guan, there are two other directors, Lu Yang and Guo Fan. Guo directed The Wandering Earth, the third highest-grossing film in China. Wu Jing, the lead actor of Wolf Warrior 2, the highest-grossing film in China, is a main actor of the film.
The film was made under very tight conditions. Due to the epidemic situation, the film started filming in August, and finished on September 20. Filming a massive war film in a month is tough for anyone around the world, observers said.
Guo told the Global Times on Friday that "we mobilized 5,000 people in three days during the filming, and had 2,600 people working on special effects."
Guo said that, for him, the most touching part of this film was the sacrifice of the CPV soldiers. "In their minds, protecting the homeland and the country was all they wanted. Because of their sacrifice, we are able to watch the movies, and you [Global Times reporter] and I can have this interview right now."