John Woo's war epic Red Cliff II earned $14.8m (RMB101.5m) infour days in mainland China to become the first film in 2009 to break the $14.6m (RMB100m) mark, according to the film's mainland China distributor China Film Group.

Released on January 7 with 1,400 prints, Red Cliff II took in $2.2m (RMB15m) on its opening day, similar to the opening gross for Red Cliff I in July, 2008.

Weng Li, spokesperson for the China Film Group, has predicted that Red Cliff II will take $58.5m (RMB400m) in mainland China and break the first Red Cliff film's record.

That film grossed $45.6m (RMB312m) in mainland China to became the highest grossing Chinese-language film on record.

In November 2008, Red Cliff I also broke the box office record for Chinese-language films in Japan, taking more than $53m (Y4.8bn). In total, Red Cliff I took in more than $100m in Asian territories.

Weng also predicted that Red Cliff II will help raise the box office takings of the 2008 to 2009 year-end movie season.

The year-end movie season in China normally starts in late November and ends in mid-February of the next year, which combines the Christmas and Chinese New Year holidays.

To date, box office earnings for the 2008-2009 year-end season have reached $73m (RMB500m). With strong sales for Red Cliff II, the total box office gross of the season could reach $146m (RMB1bn), according to Weng.

Red Cliff II will open in Hong Kong and Taipei on January 15.