Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War, which was recently selected as China's official foreign language entry for this year’s Academy Awards, will get a limited release in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in late December, according to Chris Ball, President and CEO Wrekin Hill Entertainment, which co-owns the film’s North American distribution rights with Row 1 Productions. The companies said they’ll gradually expand War - which opens in China on Dec.16 - to additional theaters in early 2012.

Yimou earned two BAFTA awards for Raise the Red Lantern and To Live, while also being nominated for House of Flying Daggers. His latest, a historical drama set in China during the 1937 Nanking Massacre, stars Christian Bale as American Catholic priest John Miller, who gets caught up in a movement of political escapees trying to survive during chaotic times. The fictional drama will be based on Yan Geling’s novel The 13 Women of Nanjing, and will be relatively intense, based on the trailer that was posted earlier.

Wait, Bale appears in movies not named The Dark Knight Rises? Who’d have guessed? When we hear “late December release,” we automatically assume that those who’ve seen Flowers Of War feel the film has Oscar potential. Maybe Bale can work his way into the race, in addition to China’s consideration for the Foreign Language statue? Just ask Ball, who says, “Flowers of War just blew me away. Not only is it incredibly powerful but the artistry is absolutely sensational.”

But awards worthy? We’ll find out next month.

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