Chinese director Lu Chuan’s war drama City Of Life And Death had a strong opening in mainland China,grossing an estimated $10.2m (RMB70m) in five days (April 22-26).

The $10m film was released on 535 film prints and 700 digital screens on Wednesday, April 22, by state-owned China Film Group.

The figures make it the second biggest local opener so far this year, following John Woo’s Red Cliff Part II which opened with $14.86m (RMB101.5m) in its first four days of release.

City Of Life And Death has also set a new box office record for 37-year-old filmmaker Lu, whose award-winning second feature Kekexili grossed $1.26m (RMB8.6m) in 2004.

Co-produced by China Film Group, Hong Kong’s Media Asia, Beijing-based Stella Megamedia and Jiangsu Broadcasting System, the black-and-white film depicts, from a neutral perspective, the Nanking massacre during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.

The Weinstein Company is understood to be in talks to acquire some of the international rights of the film.

Cinema owners in China estimate that the film will pass the RMB100m mark before the second weekend, while mainland distributor China Film Group has set a box office goal of $21.96m (RMB150m) in total.

Meanwhile, another Nanking massacre-related film, Florian Gallenberger’s John Rabe, will also open in China this week. Mainland distributor Huayi Brothers plans to open it on 350 prints and around 600 digital screens.