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Cast and crew to attend Casino Royale premiere in China, January 29th

22-Jan-2007 • Casino Royale

Chinese film fans will see James Bond on the bigscreen for the first time, uncut, when "Casino Royale" makes its Chinese bow, 45 years into the franchise, having coolly dispatched skeptical censors to win a screening - reports Variety.

Sony is pulling out all the stops for what it's tipping as 2007's biggest pic of the year in China, outstripping its "The Da Vinci Code" last year.

Bond debutant Daniel Craig, co-star Eva Green, helmer Martin Campbell and producer Barbara Broccoli will attend the prem Jan. 29 in Beijing and the following night in Shanghai.

"The censors took some time to approve it, and they approved it with no cuts. After 45 years, 21 films, this is, finally, the first one in China. Everyone has seen James Bond movies on pirated DVDs, so expectations are very high," said Li Chow, Sony Pictures' general manager in China.

Sony will distribute a whopping 470 prints, and the movie will unspool on more than 1,000 screens. There has been special effort put into dubbing the pic to help explain some of the gambling terms to an aud in a country where gambling is illegal.

Getting Bond onto Chinese screens was a task to test even 007's legendary skills. The Chinese dislike Bond's fondness for spying in other jurisdictions or "third countries." His "license to kill," maverick attitude and sexual adventures do not reflect the kinds of values China likes to embrace in its movies.

That so many of Bond's escapades took place during the Cold War era has made it difficult for officials in communist China to embrace a man who is effectively an enemy spy, but censors were reportedly won over when the studio emphasized the film is about fighting a common enemy: terrorists.

Distribs had been hopeful for a day-and-date release in November, but pic was pushed out by one of China's regular "blackouts," aimed to promote domestic films. Big takings during Chinese New Year in mid-February will really boost B.O.

"Da Vinci Code" was taken off its record-breaking run earlier than expected, possibly a victim of its own success or because of pressure from religious groups.

China usually has "blackouts" two or three times a year, freezing the release of foreign films in order to promote patriotic domestic fare and propaganda pics. Last year there were five blackouts.

Movies critical of China are forbidden.

A scene in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" in which Chinese arms dealers try to buy nuclear arms components is reportedly one of the reasons the pic will not be allowed to unspool in the country.

There will be no specific antipiracy measures for the Bond film, hardly surprising since the film has been out for several months. Copies of "Casino Royale" found on the streets of Beijing have been of poor quality.

Industry watchers say pirates often will not bother with DVDs of movies due a theatrical release, fearful of penalties; if a pic is banned, they quickly flood the market with copies.

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