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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 09:58 GMT
Bond's late arrival in China
By James Reynolds
BBC News, Beijing Correspondent

A man stands in front of a poster advertising 'Casino Royale' in China
Previous Bond films have been banned from Chinese cinemas

After saying no to James Bond for the first 20 films, the Chinese government censor has now decided that the franchise is finally fit to be screened in this country.

So, Casino Royale is being released uncut into Chinese cinemas.

In the basement of a Beijing shopping centre, the series got its first premiere in this country.

Before the red carpet was unveiled, several dozen young male cinema ushers stood in line in front of their boss, as if they were soldiers on parade.

They were then sent to kneel in front of safety barriers to separate the film's visiting stars from the curious crowd of shoppers, fans, and onlookers.

Bond arrival

Daniel Craig as James Bond
...we're showing the film in its entirety...
Daniel Craig

Just before the film started, Daniel Craig came onto the red carpet. Fans took pictures with their mobile phones. But there was little, if any screaming.

I had one question for the film's star. "For a film to be passed in China it cannot promote sex, crime, violence, gambling. Do you think that Casino Royale abides by those rules?"

"You want me to comment?" he answered with a very slight grimace. "The only good thing is that we got it past the censors here and we're showing the film in its entirety."

China clearly believes that Casino Royale won't do its local cinema-goers any harm. It may help that there are no Asian or Chinese villains in this particular Bond.

License to pirate

But the censor's approval may be a bit late and it may be a bit irrelevant as well.

Many people in this country have already managed to see the film on their own, without any government help or hindrance.

pirate DVDs
Many will already have already seen the new film on pirated DVDs

In Beijing there are plenty of pirate DVD stores. I went to one in the Sanlitun area which sells a huge range of Hollywood films, including a complete set of James Bond films from 'Dr No' to 'Die Another Day', movies which were banned in the cinema by the Chinese censor.

On a shelf near the door, there was a brand-new copy of 'Casino Royale', on sale quite openly for about a pound. At the cinema hosting the premiere, tickets cost about five pounds each.

The stars and the film-makers may want their Chinese fans to go and see the movie the proper, old-fashioned way, but most people here will probably choose to watch Casino Royale on pirated DVDs instead.

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