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China To Chase Avatar Out In Favor Of Domestic Film

Michael Santo's picture

Avatar, which continues to set records globally, seemingly needs to be in more theaters, not less. However, it is getting the boot, at least in some theaters, in China.

Avatar will be pulled from the majority of Chinese theaters where it is showing, in the next few days, Chinese media outlets reported on Tuesday. While just as popular in China as in the rest of the world, Avatar has overstayed its welcome, or at least that of typical foreign films in China.

Avatar will be pulled from non-3D movie theaters. In its place will be a domestically produced biography of Confucius. The reports from state-owned media mostly consist of quotes from theater owners.

China only allows 20 foreign films a year to be shown in theaters. Avatar has already run longer than the typical foreign film, which is normally allocated only 10 days.

Decisions on this type, including how long and where foreign films are shown, are made by China Film Group Corporation, a state-run enterprise. According to David Wolf, the president and chief executive of Wolf Group Asia, these decisions are made in order to protect box office returns for domestically produced films. Thus, the same is being done with 20th Century Fox's Avatar. The decision is fairly routine, he said, though undoubtedly not going to be popular with those who love the film.

As China is not a democracy, it makes these decisions without care for the bottom line. As Cui Weiping, a film critic and a professor at the Beijing Film Academy, said: "So many people are dying to see it, including me. ‘Avatar’ is driving people crazy right now. The government makes these decisions whenever it wants to, with no consideration for the market or the desires of the audience."

James Cameron's Avatar is moving toward second in U.S. domestic revenue, closing in on The Dark Knight. After it surpasses that film, only Titanic, another Cameron blockbuster, will stand in its path. That film, Titanic, is also the leader in global revenues, all-time, as well.

Written by Michael Santo

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