Monday, January 11, 2010

Watching the Real Thing

I have yet to watch the James Cameron smash hit Avatar, and a few friends here have recommended that I go see it, in 3-D of course.

Last week the movie grossed $14.65 million, the first week it was shown in China.

However, in the Chinese capital it's almost impossible to get a ticket for the 3-D version.

A news story here says there are only three theaters that show the 3-D version -- the China National Film Museum, the Shuang'an branch of UME and the Shijingshan branch of Wanda International Cinema.

Zhang Can, a 22-year-old student, said that tickets, including those for the non-digital version were sold out in about two hours on Friday. "Many people protested and asked that cinemas provide standing-room only tickets," Zhang said.

Another man complained that it was his fifth time to try and buy a ticket without success. Then he allegedly took his frustrations out on a billboard by breaking it before he was dragged away by the cinema security guards.

One person blogged about his experience and said that the China National Film Museum announced it had 1,224 tickets available on Saturday, but by 9am, only half an hour after the box office opened, all the tickets were sold out.

"The person at the head of the line told me that he came to the cinema at 2am on Saturday," he wrote in his post, adding that people can only get a ticket if they get into the queue before 6am.

The other two locations have similar situations, with the UME one saying there were no tickets before January 18, and Wanda one was already sold out for next weekend.

This has created a big business for scalpers.

The regular price for tickets range from 100-150RMB ($14.64-$21.97) but scalpers can sell them for 200RMB to even 400RMB ($56.60) on, the Chinese version of eBay.

Everyone says you must watch the 3-D version of Avatar, as fake DVD makers can't even begin to replicate this kind of technology. That explains the massive lineups, as people usually buy the fake DVDs later or even download them for free.

So this makes Avatar probably the first Hollywood movie that actually beat the fake DVD circuit.

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