China’s Zeal For ‘Avatar’ Crowds Out ‘Confucius’

Due to popular demand, Avatar is now back in Chinese cinemas, after plans to pull the film to make way for a state-sanctioned bio-epic on Confucius, the New York Times reports:

Confronted with a clamor of ticket-buyers for “Avatar” and sparse audiences for the domestic film “Confucius,” Chinese authorities appeared to have backpedaled this week on a decision to pull “Avatar” from the nation’s 2-D movie screens in favor of “Confucius.”

Zhang Hongsen, the vice director of the film bureau of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said last week that Avatar would be limited to 3-D and Imax screens after “Confucius” opened on Jan. 22 on 2-D screens, according to the news agency Xinhua. But 2-D showings of “Avatar” have continued at some theaters outside Beijing this week, theater employees and officials said.

In Shanghai, an official with the biggest local cinema chain told fans not to worry that they would miss “Avatar” because of state-imposed restrictions. Wu Hehu, a senior manager for the chain, Shanghai United Circuit, told a Shanghai daily newspaper that its theaters would continue to show “Avatar” on both 3-D and 2-D screens.

China tries to nurture its domestic film industry by severely restricting the number of foreign movies allowed into theaters and the lengths of their runs. But the decision to limit “Avatar,” the highest-grossing film of all time, has stirred up criticism of the state’s interference with market preferences.

January 29, 2010 6:58 PM
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