China on 007 mission

Pic is first in franchise to get bigscreen release

BEIJING — James Bond appears to have won over one of his toughest adversaries yet — China’s film censor.

The Film Board has passed 007’s latest outing, “Casino Royale,” for release — the first time Ian Fleming’s master spy has been seen in Chinese cinemas.

Pic will screen Jan. 30, according to Sony Pictures in China.

“We are extremely pleased that the film has passed and expect it to be one of the highest-grossing films next year in China,” said Li Chow, Sony Pictures’ general manager in China.

Chinese auds are familiar with 007 through pirated copies, but none of the previous films in the franchise have had a bigscreen release. Getting approval for the pic marks a major success for Sony in China.

Bond’s 007 “license to kill” maverick attitude, violence and sexual peccadilloes are anathema to the kinds of values China embraces in its pics. His penchant for espionage in other jurisdictions or “third countries” has meant he has failed to make it past the censors until now.

Approval is later than expected. There had been hopes that “Casino” would get a day-and-date release in China, but it was pushed back because of a “blackout” — two or three times a year, China puts a freeze on the release of foreign films in order to promote patriotic domestic fare and propaganda pics.

The release of the Bond pic may change the scheduled release of other foreign movies slated for January, including French helmer Luc Besson’s animated pic “Arthur and the Minimoys,” local media reported.

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