19 January 2010

Avatar pulled from Chinese cinemas

Avatar pulled from Chinese cinemas

January 19, 2010

Beijing - Chinese authorities have ordered cinemas to stop showing box-office smash Avatar, in a move apparently motivated by both commercial and political concerns.

Two Beijing cinemas confirmed that they would stop showing the ordinary version of Avatar, but not the 3D version, from Saturday, despite the movie's high popularity.

Newspaper reports said the state-run China Film Group had ordered all Chinese cinemas to stop showing the film. It had been reportedly scheduled to run until February 28.

Avatar reportedly took about 300 million yuan (R297m) at the box office in the first eight days after its release in China on January 4.

Many commentators in China found a political resonance in the film's story of the Na'vi's battle to protect their land and culture from outsiders, comparing them to Chinese citizens fighting to protect their property from the government and developers.

"Somehow, the film struck a chord with Chinese audiences and created a social phenomenon," Huang Hung wrote yesterday. "Why? All the forced removal of old neighbourhoods in China make us the only earthlings who can really feel the pain of the Na'vi," she said.

Cultural officials also wanted to ensure the success of a big-budget, state-approved film of the life of social philosopher Confucius scheduled for release nationwide on Friday, the Apple Daily said. - Sapa-dpa

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