The Chinese release of Zhang Yimou‘s WWII film The Flowers of War is imminent in China, where the film will open on December 16. But its fate has been undecided in the States.

Now Wrekin Hill Entertainment, in association with Row 1 Productions, will release the movie in a limited late December Academy qualifying run, and give the movie a wider release in early 2012.

In The Flowers of War, which is set in 1937, Christian Bale plays “a salty mortician who apparently has come to town to bury the priest of a cathedral in Nanking,” and ends up taking over for the priest when invading Japanese forces threaten the students of a girls’ school that is also housed in the cathedral. We saw a Chinese sales trailer not long ago, but with distribution set for the movie we can probably expect a trailer for US audiences in short order.

The press release is below.

Los Angeles, CA (November 7, 2011) — Chris Ball, President and CEO of LA-based film production and distribution company Wrekin Hill Entertainment, announced today that his company, in association with Row 1 Productions, have acquired theNorth American distribution rights to award-winning Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s (Raise the Red Lantern, Hero) and producer Zhang Weiping’s THE FLOWERS OF WAR starring Academy Award® winning actor Christian Bale (The Fighter, The Dark Knight). The film has been selected as this year’s official foreign language entry for China at the Academy Awards. Wrekin Hill, in association with Row 1, will open the film in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in late December 2011 and the film will then expand through early 2012.

THE FLOWERS OF WAR will have a wide release in China on December 16th following three premiere events in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Based on a screenplay by Heng Liu (The Story of Qiu Ju), THE FLOWERS OF WAR is adapted from Geling Yan’s historical novel 13 Flowers of Nanjing. The film is a work of historical fiction set against the backdrop of the Rape of Nanking, a brutal chapter in the Sino-Japanese War, which was a significant event in Chinese history. Produced and fully financed by Zhang Weiping under his New Pictures Film banner, THE FLOWERS OF WAR is inspired by true life events, and tells a genuine story of hope, love and sacrifice.

Set in 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China’s capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller (Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle, and theensuing occupation, takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirlsand thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls.

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