Next stop China as 'Avatar' sweeps through Hong Kong

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The Independent Culture

While the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar has not yet reached mainland China, the buzz that is being generated down south seems certain to help the film take the country by storm.

During the normally lucrative Christmas box office period here in Hong Kong, cinemagoers have been lining up to see the James Cameron-directed epic.

From December 24 to 27, Avatar reaped in HK$21,965,170 (two million euros) which accounts for more than half the total takings in a season that has seen cinemagoers spoilt for choice in this city.

Overall, Hong Kong cinemas took in HK$41,986,133 (3.7 million euros) over the Christmas period, a rise of 35 percent from last year, according to figures provided by the Hong Kong Theatres Association.

Coming in behind Avatar was Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes with a distant HK$7,769,585 (700,000 euros) and then the Hong Kong-produced action epic Bodyguards and Assassins with HK$4,456,024 (400,000 euros).

Rounding out the top five were Twilight Saga: New Moon which took in HK$3,780,021 (340,000 euros) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel with HK$2,337,974 (210,000 euros).

Hong Kong's film lovers - like those across the world, it would seem - have shown no concern about the extra money being charged to see Avatar in digital.

Tickets here are being set at between HK$100 and HK$170 (nine and 15 euros) for the 3D version of the film at the city's 50-odd 3D cinemas, which is two to three times more than charged for the 2D version of the film.

Avatar is set to hit screens in China from January 4 and is widely expected to challenge exisiting box office records.

Although there are often disaprities between box office results provided by film companies and those provided by the Chinese government - which oversees release dates and distribution in mainland China - 2009 saw two Hollywood productions set new marks for money made from China's rapidly expanding cinema market.

The state-run China Film Group this week announced that the Roland Emmerich-directed 2012 had as of December 23 picked up 460 million Chinese yuan (47,000,000 euros), breaking the mark of 450 million yuan (46 million euros) set earlier in the year by Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

In third place, all-time, comes the Chinese drama The Founding Of A Republic which was relased this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic and made 415 million yuan (42 million euros).

Cameron's own Oscar-winner Titanic had held top spot for 11 years with 360 million yuan (37,000,000 euros), until Transformers came out in July.

MS

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