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China holds up ‘Geisha’

Release date in doubt for Marshall pic

BEIJING — When will “Memoirs of a Geisha” finally open in mainland China?

The movie was due to bow Jan. 9 in Beijing, but was bumped to Feb. 10 without explanation.

Now that date looks doubtful amid media reports that it’s not on the China Film Group’s distribution list for February or March.

Local media are buzzing with speculation that Chinese censors will delay “Geisha” yet again because of a sex scene.

A Sony exec in Los Angeles said censorship was indeed an issue and that a few seconds of footage had to be cut from the film, but the intention is to release “Geisha” a week or two after the originally planned Feb. 10 date. No new date was specified.

Expectations have been high in China about the movie — the first big-budget Hollywood movie to boast Asian actors in all the main roles, it stars two of China’s best known thesps, Gong Li and Ziyi Zhang.

Weng Li, China Film Group’s distribution manager, told the Chinese Business View newspaper he had not received any information about the “Geisha” release date.

Another industry official, Zhang Wei, who’s responsible for screening the movie in China’s richest city, Shenzhen, told the Shenzhen Economic Daily “Geisha” was awaiting approval by the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television.

Pic, which debuted Stateside in December and in Hong Kong on Jan. 12, is widely available on pirate DVDs in China, and there are fears that it may not draw auds to cinemas.

Sarft officials had no comment, the Xinhua news agency reported.

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