John Woo's war epic Red Cliff swept across five Asian territories in its opening weekend and set new box office records in China and Korea.

The two-hour film was released on Thursday (July 10)in mainland China, Korea, Taiwan andHong Kong, and on Friday in Singapore, andhas grosseda total of around $26.04m in the first weekend.

In most Asian territories, Red Cliff is being releasedas two films. The first film opened last week (except for Japan and Malaysia); the second is scheduled for release in early 2009.

Red Cliff opened Thursday morning in China with single sneak previews at midnight. In four days, the film's box office takingspassed $15.74m (RMB 100m), breaking the $11.66m (RMB80m) first-weekend figure of The Forbidden Kingdomand making Red Cliffthe biggest film in China so far this year.

The figures essentially tied the record set by Curse Of The Golden Flower in 2006. Zhang Yimou's film made $14m (RMB96m) in its opening weekend but opened on a Thursday evening, about half a day later than Red Cliff.

Beijing-based cinema owners predict Red Cliff may reach or even break Curse Of The Golden Flower's box office record ofaround $41m(RMB290m).

In Korea, the film drew 801,023 admissions nationwide on 451 screens-the highest ever for a Chinese film in Korea. Previous Chinese-language blockbusters such as Hero and House Of Flying Daggers saw around 60,000 admissions.

Red Cliff also emerged as one of the highest-grossing films of the year so far in Taiwan, where it made $2.63m (NT$80m).

Hong Kong distributor Mei Ah reports that Hong Kong sales also jumped from around $256,000 (HK$2m) on opening day to $1.38m (HK$10.8m) for the first weekend.

In Singapore, where Red Cliff is distributed by Scorpio East, the film opened Friday with 46 prints following sneak previews on Thursday night. Scorpio East reports that thefirst weekend gross reached $760,000 (S$1.03m).

Chinese industry analysts said somenegative reviewsof the film might hurt the box office of the second instalment six months later. But as the biggest battle of Red Cliff does not appear in the first film, 'most of the audience would still want to see the film.'