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Sunday, 27 January, 2002, 22:00 GMT
Harry Potter casts spell on China
Harry Potter's books have been a big hit in China
Harry Potter's books have also been a big hit in China
The Harry Potter film has bewitched fans in most parts of the world - and China is the latest country to succumb to Potter-mania after the movie's première in Shanghai.

The 1,118 tickets to the screening sold out a week in advance, prompting cinema-owners to take the unprecedented step of holding a second, simultaneous viewing.

Translators adapted some language for local audiences
Translators adapted some language for local audiences
The four novels featuring the young magician have already become the most popular children's books in the country's history, selling more than three million copies since being released in October.

Harry Potter is known as Ha-li Bo-te in China, and his film will be seen in 20 cities, with a release date to coincide with the national holiday to mark the lunar new year.

None of the original cast of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was present at the première - but the next best thing was Xu Gang, who provides the Chinese voice of the young magician in the dubbed version.

Wearing Potter's trademark cape and black-rimmed glasses, the 15-year-old high school student said audiences would find his character's qualities easy to embrace.

"Harry Potter is brave and friendly. He's the kind of boy who cares about his parents from the bottom of his heart," he said.

Chinese children have never seen anything like this before

Wang Ruiqin
Translators tried to make the story more easy-to-understand for local audiences by replacing some of the language of western magic with that used in Chinese folklore.

Distributors were also worried by the widespread DVD piracy in the country.

Counterfeit DVDs appeared on sale on the streets of Hong Kong just days after the film had been released in United States cinemas.

But that did not affect the enthusiasm of the fans in Shanghai, who were queuing up to buy Harry Potter cassettes and wall clocks and have their photo taken with the young magician, with the help of computer technology.

"The magic was awesome. I'm going to learn how to do that," said 11-year-old Zhang Yu after the show.

Wang Ruiqin, chief editor at the People's Literature Publishing House, said: "It's all so fresh and new. Chinese children have never seen anything like this before."

See also:

03 Dec 01 | Film
Potter breaks Japan records
06 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Harry Potter battles Chinese pirates
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