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January 7, 2010

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'Avatar' is stellar on first day in China

ALREADY a global hit, James Cameron's "Avatar" raced to a big first day in populous China, with a publicist predicting the sci-fi blockbuster will set a new Chinese box office record.

"Avatar" raked in 33 million yuan (US$4.8 million) in a 3-D, 2-D and IMAX joint release, Weng Li, spokesman for state-run film importer China Film Group, told The Associated Press in a phone interview yesterday.

Weng called the result a strong showing but wasn't sure if it was a first-day record. The modern benchmark for a hit in China is 100 million yuan, and "Avatar" is on track to easily pass that mark in several days.

But the publicist said the story of aliens on a foreign planet fending off American colonizers is set for even greater heights, predicting it will break the all-time box office record recently set by another Hollywood production, "2012." That disaster film had made 460 million yuan as of December 23.

Weng said "Avatar" could make 500 million yuan. "I think it has very good momentum. I think it should break the '2012' record," he said.

The strong results on Monday came despite heavy snowfall a day earlier in Beijing, a major movie market.

Cameron is already a box office darling in China, with his "Titanic" pulling in a then-unprecedented 360 million yuan in 1998 - a record that stood until last year, when it was broken by "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "2012."

Elsewhere in China, in wealthy Hong Kong, "Avatar" has earned HK$ 84.8 million (US$10.9 million) from December 17 to Tuesday, said Adrian Lo, a publicist for the Hong Kong distributor for 20th Century Fox.

The movie had made more than US$1 billion worldwide as of last weekend.


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