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Bond in Dragon lair

Beijing, Jan. 28 (AP): James Bond is finally coming to Chinese cinemas, and producers of the British superspy’s latest romp, Casino Royale, are pulling out all the stops to promote it.

Sony Pictures hired experts to get the Chinese-language dubbing of the movie’s gambling jargon just right. The new 007, Daniel Craig, is flying in to lend star power tomorrow at the Beijing premier. The film will be shown on 1,000 screens across China.

But even if Bond’s big-screen Chinese debut is a hit, Sony stands to make little money in a market where the state-owned monopoly distributor keeps most of the box office revenues.

The dilemma highlights the conflict between foreign ambitions in China’s film market of 1.3 billion potential viewers and Beijing’s desire to protect its own studios.

Bond should get a good reception, said Li Chow, the general manager in China for Sony Pictures Entertainment, a unit of Sony Corp.

“I think it will be very well received,” Li said. “Everybody here in China knows the Bond films, and there are very high expectations, so we hope it will be very successful.”

Until now, Bond has been a flop with Chinese censors, though earlier movies are available on pirated DVDs.

Authorities rejected Die Another Day, starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond, reportedly due to its depiction of North Korea, a close Beijing ally, as a gangster haven.

For Casino Royale, a tale of poker and terrorism, Sony submitted the film to the Chinese censors as early as possible and discussed its content with them, Li said. “The censors didn’t request any cuts,” she said. “What we told them is, we are fighting a common enemy, terrorists. That was well accepted.”

Li said: “We expect this to be the highest-grossing foreign film (in China) this year.”

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