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

By January 31, 2010Newswires

China’s Zeal for ‘Avatar’ Crowds Out ‘Confucius’
by Sharon LaFraniere

BEIJING — A Hollywood vision of the future is testing the Chinese government’s preference for a piece of the country’s past.

Chinese spectators chat in front of a giant poster for China’s homegrown, state-backed biopic “Confucius” at a theater in Beijing. China’s government is urging theater operators to make sure that at least two-thirds of the films they show are domestically made after the latest Hollywood blockbuster “Avatar” wowed audiences and became the highest-grossing film in the country’s history.

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.

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