H’wood pix hit a great wall in China

Country severs Bond's bow

BEIJING — Will 007 hit the great wall? China has suspended the bigscreen bows of “Miami Vice” and “World Trade Center” to make room for propaganda movies, while “Casino Royale” — skedded to be the first James Bond ever to open in China — faces a similar fate.

Two or three times a year, China puts a freeze on the release of foreign films in order to promote patriotic domestic fare, but this year there have been more blackouts than usual.

The delays translate into major revenue losses: By the time the pics hit the screens, pirates have already flooded the market with cheap DVD copies. Hollywood execs regularly complain of a lack of clarity on operating in China and list the blackouts as a major impediment.

This current promotion is called “October Golden Autumn Excellent Domestic Film Exhibition Month.” Another blackout is expected toward the end of the year, which could foil Sony’s ambitious plans for a day-and-date release of “Casino Royale” on Nov. 17.

“Vice” looks set to be pushed back until Nov. 1, while “WTC” is unlikely to be screened before Nov. 11. Bond will probably have to wait until 2007.

Though Chinese audiences have undoubtedly seen other 007 pics via pirated copies, none of the earlier films has been given a bigscreen release. It’s still a question whether “Casino Royale” will pass the censors, since Bond’s “license to kill,” maverick attitude, violence and sexual situations are anathema to the kinds of values China embraces in its pics.

The film promotions this month will showcase 10 local movies, including “My Long March,” “China, 1949” and “Two Red-Scarf Wrapped Women.”

Tong Gang, director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, told the Beijing Times that the pics contain “weighty revolutionary and historical material” and showcase “the rich, colorful and true-to-life state of domestic films.”

Three foreign movies will be allowed during October — Canadian moppet pic “Spymate,” “Final Contract: Death on Delivery” (a telepic shot in Germany) and “The White Planet,” a French-Canadian documentary about the North Pole.

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