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April 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Moviegoer interest in the 3D version of Titanic may have fallen steeply at the domestic box office, and by and large, it is not living up to its name in most foreign markets either. But in China it is turning out to be a big hit. Tuesday’s debut brought in $11.6 million, by far the biggest take in any overseas market. In fact, on Twitter, Rupert Murdoch, whose 20th Century Fox studio is releasing the film overseas, observed, “First time ever China box office [bigger] than U.S. New markets fast expanding for U.S. films.” The movie’s release is being helped by the fact that relatively few people were able to see it when it debuted in China in 1998, Only a relative handful of movie theaters existed at the time and only 180 screened it. Since then, there has been an explosion of multiplex construction in the country, and it is now being screened in 3,500 locations. Shanghai Daily reported that several IMAX theaters have presold most, if not all, of their seats for days. Yu Jianjiang, the manager of Stellar China City, predicted that the movie will remain a big hit throughout the month since it will have very little competition. However, the newspaper noted that some moviegoers have expressed disappointment that censors have removed images of Kate Winslet posing nude in a scene with Leonardo DiCaprio. Writing on one blog, one person commented, “I’ve been waiting almost 15 years, and not for the 3D icebergs.” The scene was not censored in China in 1998. And China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television explained why it did so this time around this way: “Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people’s viewing. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration of building a harmonious ethical social environment, we’ve decided to cut off the nudity scenes.”

UPDATE: It turns out that we — and several other news organizations — were suckered by a satirical “report” that appeared on the website Offbeat China. SARFT gave no explanation for its decision to censor the 3D release. The Offbeat China item was accompanied by this illustration.