The 21st James Bond film Casino Royale arrived in China for the first time today, as the new 007 Daniel Craig visited Beijing for the official premiere...

Casino Royale Chinese Premiere
29th January 2007

The 21st James Bond film Casino Royale arrived in China for the first time today, as the new 007 Daniel Craig visited Beijing for the official premiere - the penultimate launch event for the film. The British actor along with Bond girl Eva Green, producers Michael Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and director Martin Campbell attended the premiere.

Above: Daniel Craig arrives at the Beijing Capital Airport in China on Sunday

Reuters reported that hundreds of screaming Chinese fans turned up on Monday to see actor Daniel Craig at the premiere of the first ever James Bond movie to be shown at theatres in China, which is screening uncut and uncensored. "Ling ling qi" - Chinese for 007 - has never before been officially released in the world's most populous country, and new James Bond Craig and leading lady Eva Green flew in especially for the event.

Above: Daniel Craig and the cast and crew wave to the crowds

"It's been an ambition of mine to get here, and I wish I had more time," a casually dressed Craig told reporters while sipping coffee in a five-star hotel ahead of the premiere. Craig chatted with fans and signed autographs at the cinema in Beijing's fashionable Wangfujing shopping district which laid out a red carpet welcome for him and Green, who plays Vesper Lynd, a prickly official at the British Treasury.

Above: Daniel Craig, Eva Green and director Martin Campbell pose for the Chinese press

Poor quality pirated DVD versions of "Casino Royale" have been available on China's streets for weeks, costing a little more than $1 and underlining the risk movie makers face in the world's most populous country. "It hasn't premiered here yet, but I think it's been seen here," Craig lamented. "Someone tried to sell me a copy last night," he added. "I was wearing a hat and glasses so they didn't recognise me. I understand the reality of the situation and it saddens me, not just because of the effect it has on the movie industry but because going to the cinema is a great experience," said Craig, referring to copyright piracy.

Above: Daniel Craig greets fans on the red carpet

"You're missing out by watching a bad copy of a DVD with no sound and bad picture quality. As far as I'm concerned cinema is a collective experience and you get 50 percent more by going to the cinema."

Executives expect the film - in which a moodier, more chiseled Bond battles an evil banker to the world's terrorists - to be the biggest grossing foreign movie ever in China, with receipts seen exceeding 100 million yuan (6.6 million pounds). The film is to be shown from 470 prints at more than 1,000 cinemas - also the widest release ever for a foreign film in China. It will be screened in all major Chinese cities and numerous smaller towns, said distributor Sony Pictures. The cheapest tickets for the film in Beijing will be 60 yuan (about $10), and it is scheduled to run for a month.

Above: Daniel Craig greets fans on the red carpet

The BBC reports that speaking at the premiere, held in the basement of a Beijing shopping centre, Craig said it was a "good thing" the film would be shown in the country "in its entirety".

An English-language Chinese news site reported that Daniel Craig "disappointed some Chinese fans" as he walked up the red carpet. According to the report, although Craig talked with foreign reporters and shook hands with others lining the red carpet, a number of fans were disappointed he didn't spend more time with them. The fact the actor doesn't speak Chinese seemed to matter little to his fans. "He disappointed me, I didn't get a greeting. All he did was look left, center and right in the direction of the cameras," Liu Tingting, a self-confessed Bond nut who said she intends to see Casino Royale, which will be the first Bond film she's seen in a movie theatre.

Above: Bond girl Eva Green wowed crowds at the Beijing premiere

Director Martin Campbell admitted he was unsure of the reaction the film would get in China, but said he was pleased Chinese would finally get a chance to see Bond up close. "After 21 films, it's obviously very significant, given that we are the first Bond film to be shown here," he said. "The fact that we got it through without any censor cuts at all seems to me to be some kind of achievement."

Above: Locals stand by a Casino Royale billboard in Beijing

China only permits a small number of Western movies be shown at cinemas every year, and even then films can run into problems with the Chinese censor for political or moral content. But not "Casino Royale". "I don't think they mind the violence. It's interesting that we had a tiny bit cut in England, and we had a little bit of the violence trimmed in America," the New Zealand-born Campbell said.


The full, original version is being shown in China both dubbed into Chinese and in the original English (although Dame Judi Dench confirmed last week that she had to redub a line to remove the phrase "cold war").

Craig has made good use of his time in the Chinese capital, taking the opportunity to visit the Forbidden City with his girlfriend, Satsuki Mitchell.

Monday's event in Beijing will be followed on Tuesday by a second premiere in Shanghai, although the film was released across 51 screens in the city on Monday.

Left: Daniel Craig and girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell visit the Forbidden City in Beijing.

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