As Avatar fast becomes the new Titanic at the box office and the new Slumdog Millionaire on the awards circuit, there's finally some bad news for James Cameron's 3-D space adventure: China is pulling the film from 1,600 2-D screens this week (it'll still play on 900 3-D ones) in favor of a Confucius biopic starring Chow-Yun Fat. Hong Kong paper Apple Daily says officials there are worried that Avatar is stealing too much market share from homegrown films, and that the parts about the forced eviction of the Na'Vi from Home Tree might resonate with citizens forcefully evicted by the Chinese government (make sense). Some Beijing-based media consultant, though, tells the L.A. Times that this probably has more to do with preparations for the upcoming celebration of Chinese New Year on February 14. Either way, it means slightly less money for the HMFIC.
In a related story, Avatar finally killed somebody, allegedly. A 42-year-old man in Taiwan who'd previously suffered from hypertension reportedly passed away 11 days after seeing the movie in 3-D. According to the AFP, he began to feel sick during the screening and was taken unconscious to a hospital where it was discovered his brain was hemorrhaging. "It's likely that the over-excitement from watching the movie triggered his symptoms," says a doctor. If James Cameron has any say, you can probably expect to see that appear as an above-the-title blurb on Avatar's DVD case.
'Avatar' pulled from 2-D screens by Chinese government [Company Town/LAT]
Man died after watching Avatar - doctor [AFP]