The historical mystery thriller is the highest-grossing movie of 2023 to yet and Zhang’s biggest box office success.
Full River Red, the historical drama by renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou, is currently the greatest hit of 2023 worldwide, grossing $644 million at Chinese theatres alone.
The film’s North American rights have been purchased by specialised distributor Niu Vision Media, and a limited release in 150 theatres across the United States and Canada is scheduled for March 17. Full River Red was acquired by Niu Vision from Bill Kong’s Edko Pictures, which is in charge of handling the movie’s global sales and will continue to make it available to purchasers in a few countries during the Filmart industry gathering in Hong Kong the following week.
Full River Red, which was produced by budding studio Huanxi Media, took first place in China’s box office competition for the Lunar New Year in late January. Before to the lucrative holiday release time, the sci-fi sequel The Wander Earth 2 by Frank Guo was the fan favourite, but Full River Red ultimately gained the most positive word-of-mouth and won the competition.
Zhang, 71, is arguably the most significant mainland Chinese director of his time. He has received three Oscar nominations (for Ju Dou in 1990, Raise the Red Lantern in 1991, and Hero in 2003) and has significant domestic and international box office success (his wuxia films Hero and House of Flying Daggers remain rare Chinese international hits). The 2008 Beijing Summer Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games both had legendary opening ceremonies that he also directed, but Full River Red has emerged as his most successful picture in 35 years in the business.
The movie is a suspenseful historical comedic action thriller that takes its cues from a well-known Chinese poetry from the Southern Song Dynasty. The plot, which is set in the late 12th century, occurs as an imperial court uprising may be about to break out. An ambassador from the rebels is found dead on the eve of a crucial meeting, and the crucial letter he was carrying for the Emperor has disappeared. This sets off a race against time to find the murderer and recover the letter before daybreak. The film’s tension, wordplay, gallows humour, and rousing conclusion have pleased Chinese viewers.
Jackson Yee, a former pop sensation who is now a starring man, Shen Teng, Lei Jiayin, and Zhang Yi make up the ensemble cast of Full River Red. Zhang and his frequent writing partner Chen Yu also contributed to the script.
With the premiere of the personal period drama One Second in 2020, the spy thriller Cliff Walkers in 2021, and the military movie Sniper in 2022, Zhang has recently been on a roll. His upcoming movie is probably the just finished modern crime thriller Beneath the Light, which deals with corruption and stars Joan Chen, Zhou Dongyu, and Yu Hewei. There are rumours that Cliff Walkers will have a sequel.