By John Young
Updated January 04, 2012 at 12:00 PM EST
Credit: Alice Zou

What’s the Chinese word for blockbuster? The historical drama The Flowers of War, starring Christian Bale and directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, Raise the Red Lantern), has already collected $83 million at the Chinese box office in just 17 days, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That makes Flowers of War the sixth-highest grossing film ever in China, behind such American exports as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($145.5 million) and Avatar ($204 million), the latter of which remains the country’s top-grossing movie. The film’s stellar box-office tally should come as a relief to producer Zhang Weiping, whose New Picture Company financed Flowers of War for $100 million — the largest budget ever for a Chinese production.

It remains to be seen how Flowers of War, which is set during the Nanking Massacre of 1937, will perform outside of China. After a brief Oscar-qualifying run last month in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco (and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film), distributor Wrekin Hill Entertainment has yet to announce when the film will return to theaters. The movie has so far received mixed reviews from American critics.

For more: