Getting as much (if not more) media coverage than the on-going ‘Google vs. China’ saga today is the ‘China vs. Avatar’ story. According to news sources, China’s state-run China Film Corporation this week made the decision to shut down all two-dimensional screenings of the hit US-made film in the country. There are over 4000 estimated 2-D screens in China, opposed to approximately 800 3-D ones (although it’s not clear exactly how many of each are showing Avatar).
Why? One good explanation I found was by John Hudson writing for the Atlantic Wire. (‘Why Is Avatar Being Pulled from Chinese Theaters?‘) Quoting analysts, Hudson narrows the possible reasons down to three possibilities:
1. ‘A Routine Policy’: Since China’s policy for foreign films is ‘no more than 20 a year’ with 10-day maximum screenings for each; Avatar has passed its deadline and is thus being pulled.
2. ‘Boosting Domestic Companies’: Avatar is already the biggest box-office success in China and therefore needs to step aside to give the country’s domestic selections, such as the very soon to be released biopic Confucius starring Chow Yun-Fat as the legendary philosopher, better chances at success.
3. ‘Its Message’: Apparently there are parallels that can be drawn between the blue Na’vis’ race in the movie and real-life Chinese citizens’ struggles for land ownership and rights-making the ideas conveyed by Avatar to the Chinese public a perceivable threat to the Chinese government.
Personally, I’d love to see how Confucius stands up internationally to Avatar, which currently has an astonishing 94 percent ‘top critics’ score on the review aggregation forum Rotten Tomatoes, and is already one of the most successful movies of all time around the globe.