Moviegoers wait to buy tickets for "Titanic" in 3D in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu province, April 10, 2012.[Photo/Asianewsphoto]
Chinese moviegoers flocked to cinemas on Tuesday, lining up for tickets to see James Cameron's epic "Titanic" in 3D. While the 3D release looks set to be a huge hit in China, some cinemagoers were disgruntled that they couldn't have it all due to censorship cuts.
Three IMAX cinemas in Beijing were packed for the movie's debut screening on Tuesday, despite the high ticket price -- 150 yuan (24 U.S. Dollars) -- and the inconvenient midnight hour of the screening.
"It is expensive," said Liu Hui, manager of Beijing UME cinema chains, "but tickets still sell out. People just prefer to watch movies like this in an IMAX cinema."
Even outside Beijing, screenings of the film in 3D cinemas in other large cities sold out days before the film was released.
"I have watched Titanic seven or eight times," said Liu Jianwen, 27, who lined up for tickets outside a cinema in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia with his girlfriend. "I'm here for the story rather than the visual effects. It's such touching love story."
The 1997 movie was based on a tragic love story which takes place aboard the doomed British passenger liner Titanic, which sank in the north Atlantic on its maiden voyage in 1912 after hitting an iceberg. Over 1,500 people onboard perished in the disaster.
The movie was a phenomenal success globally, and grossed 360 million yuan when it entered the Chinese mainland market in 1998. This phenomenal box office record remained unbroken for 11 years, until the release of Transformers 2 in 2009. A ticket to see the movie Titanic at that time cost 25 yuan at most.
Today's higher ticket price won't deter fans, however, as market analysts believe the 3D "Titantic" is likely to gross over 500 million yuan in mainland cinemas, according to local media reports.
Still, despite the special effects, and reworked footage, many fans are disappointed. Some fans were upset about missing out on the romantic but controversial scenes in which Rose, played by Kate Winslet, posed nude for sketches.
Internet forums and popular microblogging sites were abuzz with criticism of the cut by the censors.
"I've been waiting almost 15 years, and not for the 3D icebergs," said a widely forwarded microblog post.
Cinemagoers were especially annoyed, given that censors allowed the movie to be screened uncut back in 1998. There is no official response to the roll-back of the censorship policy concerning the 3D film.
China does not have a movie rating system. The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) is the one responsible for censoring scenes of obscene, violent, and other inappropriate content.
However, on an online survey conducted by popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, 73 percent of those polled said the movie was "great" and only 12 percent expressed dissatisfaction.
"'Titanic' shows us what love is about," said Qi Lunna, a university professor, adding that the movie highlights a sore point in today's society, that materialism is eroding pure relationships.
"Many people nowadays pay too much attention to material wealth, especially on who they should marry," she said.
"I was deeply touched by this film," said Chen Han, a sophomore student at Inner Mongolia University. "I want to love as freely and purely as Jack and Rose."