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January 8, 2010

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

'Avatar' proves the reel thing as Shanghai box office joins trend

SHANGHAI cinema operators are not the only ones rejoicing over record takings for film maker James Cameron's 3D sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar" - ticket scalpers are also doing a roaring trade.

The icy weather has not dampened city movie fans' enthusiasm, with long queues the norm, particularly for the IMAX 3D screenings at the Peace Cinema, Shanghai's only IMAX outlet.

At least 100 shivering fans queued outside the cinema from 5am yesterday.

Most tickets for weekend IMAX screenings had already been sold, cinema staff said, adding that customers were limited to four each to prevent scalping.

Box office takings at the cinema, which is showing five daily screenings, hit a record high at the time of writing - about 700,000 yuan (US$102,525) since its Monday opening.

A Peace Cinema spokesman said it may increase the price of evening screenings next week from 150 yuan to 200 yuan.

Cinema staff said they observed some scalpers charging at least 100 yuan to 150 yuan extra per ticket and doing brisk business.

"I don't mind buying tickets from scalpers if they save me some time," said Sunny He, a 40-something company worker who spent three hours waiting for an IMAX ticket.

Mark Andrews, 34, a British writer, disagreed.

"The tickets are too expensive, Andrews said. "Isn't it more comfortable to watch the DVD at home?"

The 3D screenings have become a hot topic online with young people in Shanghai.

Many have posted their movie reviews and tips about buying IMAX tickets on social-networking sites.

Some urged fans to take food and water with them since the movie is 163-minutes long.

Luo Xijun, a 20-something administrative worker who attended the film's 10pm screening on Wednesday at the Broadband International Cineplex on Huaihai Road, said it was a full house.

At Shanghai United Cinema Lines, the city's leading chain, the Hollywood epic has made about 27.8 million yuan since its Monday debut on the Chinese mainland.

"The film's strong box office momentum will last for at least two weeks, surpassing that of "Transformers" and "2012" when they were shown in China," said Wu Hehu, deputy director of Shanghai United.

The global takings of "Avatar" surpassed US$1 billion on Tuesday, making it already the fourth-biggest box office draw in cinema history with plenty of cinema time left.


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