Zhang Yimou's $45m Curse Of The Golden Flower topped the box office in China, Hong Kong and Malaysia over the Christmas holidays.

Following its record-breaking opening in China over the weekend of Dec 14-17, the lavish costume drama had grossed $25m (RMB200m) in its home territory by Dec 26, according to local distributor Beijing New Picture Film Co.

The most up-to-date figures, including New Year weekend grosses, won't be available until Thursday, but the film appears to be on its way to becoming the biggest local production of all time at the Chinese box office. That record is currently held by Hero, also directed by Zhang, which grossed $30m (RMB240m) following its release in Dec 2002.

In Hong Kong, Curse Of The Golden Flower opened one week later on Dec 21 and took the number one slot with a haul of $1.4m (HK$11m) from 44 screens in its first week.

In a competitive week at the Hong Kong box office, three other high-profile films opened on the same date. Among these, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Confession Of Pain came in second with $1.3m from 43 screens; Casino Royale took $1.1m from 36 screens and Happy Feet grossed $772,296 from 35 screens.

Curse Of The Golden Flower was also released in Singapore and Malaysia on Dec 21. In Malaysia it beat Eragon and Night At The Museum to take the top slot at the box office with a gross of $381,000. According to the film's Hong Kong producer Edko Films, it has also broken the record for the opening of a Chinese sword-fighting film in Malaysia.

In Singapore, the film grossed $660,000 from 40 prints on its opening weekend (Dec 21-24), coming in second behind Night At The Museum which took $843,000 from 42 prints. After its first week, Curse had taken $960,600.

Curse was also the top film in Taipei over the two-day Christmas weekend, grossing $420,000, although it fell more than 50% the following weekend when Night At The Museum opened with a weekend haul of $1.3m.

However, the film's high screen count in China has angered the distributors of rival films including Confession Of Pain and Jia Zhangke's Still Life. China Film Group and Beijing New Picture Film Co released Curse on a record-breaking 826 prints and it's currently the only film being played on digital screens.

Confession Of Pain, which secured around one third the number of screens, has grossed about $5m (RMB40m) to date, while Still Life has mostly been consigned to daytime screenings.

The only Hollywood film to open in China over the holiday season was The Painted Veil which Warner China Film HG Corp released on December 29.

US films cleared for release in January include The Guardian and Casino Royale. Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, director Martin Campbell and stars Daniel Craig and Eva Green are all expected to attend the premieres of Casino Royale in Beijing on Jan 29 and Shanghai on Jan 30.

SilviaWong in Singapore, Sen-lun Yu in Beijing and Stephen Cremin in Taipei also contributed to this report.