'Avatar' breaks box office records in China

The futuristic adventure had grossed 540 million yuan (USD 80 million), Xinhua news agency reported, attributing the figures to the nation's film regulator Tong Gang. The film had smashed the all-time Chinese box-office record with the haul after just two weeks of screenings.

That moves it past the USD 63 million taken by previous box-office champion '2012' as recently as last month. Many in the north of China braved freezing temperatures at the weekend to pay around 80 yuan (USD 10) for tickets, though in some cases touts were reportedly selling them for up to 300 yuan (USD 35).

But the state-run China Film Group has ordered cinemas across the country to only show the 3D edition of the film and stop showing the 2D version from 23 January, effectively preventing its general distribution.

The plight of the Na'vi, the blue alien race who face the threat of eviction from their woodland home in David Cameron's blockbuster, has been compared with those in China vulnerable to displacement by predatory property developers. Reports that the hugely popular movie would be pulled ahead of schedule had sparked a furore on the Chinese Internet amid charges the government had shunted it aside to make way for the patriotic biopic 'Confucius'.

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