Filmgoers brave bad weather for Cameron pic

China loves “Avatar.” James Cameron’s latest movie took 33 million yuan ($4.8 million) on Monday, its first day of release, setting a new opening-day record.

The huge haul comes despite the fact that parts of the country have been hit by the worst weather in half a century.

Avatar’s” reception is a clear illustration of how the biz in China has been boosted by the construction of state-of-the-art multiplexes.

By November, there were 4,600 screens on the Chinese mainland, with the number of 3D screens growing to 600.

Cameron came to Beijing last month to promote the movie, always a good move when wooing Chinese auds.

Beijingers repaid him by flocking to see the pic despite high ticket prices — seats for the Imax 3D version cost a whopping $22 in the capital.

Wanda Intl. Cinemas told the Global Times that the pic netted more than $88,000 at their sites in Beijing despite a snowstorm and traffic difficulties. Manager Chen Hongwei said it was certain “Avatar” would make $73 million.

Of 30 screens at Beijing’s Capital Cinema, 11 are showing the movie, which is also screening in standard 3D, and tickets are sold out all over the city.

Chinese industryites have been as enthusiastic as auds in their reception to the film, with many lamenting China’s gap in new lensing techniques.

The CGI left us bemoaning our inadequacies,” Agan, helmer of popular laffer “Gao Xing,” told People’s Daily Online. “I don’t think that there is anything for us to learn from ‘Avatar,’ because we are too far behind Hollywood in technology. Some netizens estimate the gap to be 20 years. I think it’s more like 100 years.”

The movie’s success in the cinema has done little to dent the pirate trade, and DVD vendors on the street say sales of “Avatar” have been brisk for the past couple of weeks. Pic’s release was delayed for two days, helping the pirates’ business.

China imports around 20 foreign films a year for theatrical release. The two top movies of 2009 were both Hollywood pics — “2012,” which took $67.5 million, and “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen,” which took $63 million. Chinese propaganda epic “The Founding of a Republic” made a respectable $61 million.

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