Beijing: Chinese authorities have ordered cinemas to stop showing box-office smash “Avatar”, reports here said Tuesday.
Two Beijing cinemas confirmed that they would stop showing the ordinary version of “Avatar”, but not the 3-D version, from Saturday, despite the movie’s continued high popularity.
The Hong Kong-based Apple Daily newspaper said the state-run China Film Group had ordered all Chinese cinemas to stop showing the film.
“Avatar” took about 300 million yuan ($40 million) at the box office in its first eight days after its release in China Jan 4, the official China Daily quoted the China Film Group as saying.
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 nothing less than a social phenomenon,” commentator Huang Hung wrote in China Daily Tuesday.
“Why? All the forced removal of old neighbourhoods in China makes us the only earthlings today who can really feel the pain of the Na’vi,” she said.
“For audiences in other countries, such brutal eviction is something outside their imagining. It could only take place on another planet or in China,” popular blogger Han Han wrote of “Avatar”.
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 Friday, the Apple Daily said.
“Avatar” had been reportedly scheduled to run until Feb 28.
Many viewers had queued for tickets costing up to 150 yuan ($22) for the IMAX 3-D version of “Avatar” in Beijing earlier this month, the Global Times newspaper said.
China allows imports of only 20 foreign films annually for showing in cinemas.
The country’s top two box-office hits last year were both foreign films, “2012” and “Transformers 2”, which earned 460 million yuan ($68 million) and 430 million yuan ($63 million), respectively, the Global Times said.
Pirated DVDs of Avatar were on sale for about 7 yuan ($1) in Beijing’s streets and markets even before the film’s official release in China.