Imported films will be banned from Chinese mainland cinemas in July and October.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and TV, which recently limited imports of overseas productions to reduce onscreen sex and violence and benefit the healthy development of youngsters, imposed the ban.
In accordance with the decision, Troy will be moved up to June 12 but releases of the other two major imports--Spiderman 2 and Harry Potter 3--will have to be delayed, according to the China Film Company, an overseas-film release firm based in Beijing.
The company's import department manager, Zhou Tiedong, said Spiderman 2 is likely to be postponed until August and the release date for Harry Potter 3 has not been set.
The new rule received mixed responses.
"I am encouraged about the news because it works to the advantage of domestically made films," said Sun Baoming, general supervisor of the Shanghai Film Group Company. Sun believes the new rules will improve the market value and film quality of domestic productions.
"Audiences, especially young ones, need to be cultivated," he said. "We should not lose our national culture."
Gu Min, of the Shanghai United Cinema Company, disagreed. "A well-developed film market is supposed to offer variety. That's why we had Cold Mountain and Koma (a Hong Kong film) at the May Day holidays. I believe fine culture from Western countries is similarly beneficial to our own civilization."
Free from foreign competition, China-made films will have a good chance to grab the national market.
Zhang Yimou's Shi Mian Mai Fu, titled Lovers in English, will make its international debut on July 14.
Another Hong Kong film, 2046, now competing in the Cannes Film Festival in France, is scheduled to open during the National Day holidays in October.
But cinema companies say a drop in box office revenue is inevitable without Spiderman 2 and Harry Potter 3.
"Such films are most attractive to students who like to see the movies during the summer holidays," said Xu Youlin, sales manager of Shanghai Kodak Cinema World Company.
The ban also gives good business opportunities to pirates.
"It's a shame that I can't enjoy the better sound effects in the cinema, but there is no doubt that I can buy pirated VCDs," said Tu Yaowen, a 17-year-old high school student.
(Shanghai Daily May 18, 2004)