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No ‘Dark Knight’ in China

29 Dec, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The year’s biggest box office blockbuster, The Dark Knight, will forgo a theatrical release in the world’s most populous country.

Warner Bros. Dec. 24 said it was canceling the release due to “cultural sensitivities” prominent throughout the second Christopher Nolan helmed Batman movie.

“Based on the number of pre-release conditions that are being attached to The Dark Knight, as well as cultural sensitivities to some elements of the film, we have opted to forego a theatrical release of the film in China,” the studio said in a statement.

Warner Bros. did not specify the exact nature of possibly offensive material in the film.

With a global box office tally approaching $1 billion, The Dark Knight reportedly generated $7.5 million in revenue in Hong Kong, which incidentally is the location for some of the film’s chief criminal elements.

Not mentioned was the effect the non-release would have on piracy.

China ranks among the worst offenders in protecting intellectual copyrights such as movie DVDs, books and music. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) says U.S. studios lose more than $2 billion annually to pirated DVDs in the Asia/Pacific region.

Reports indicate nearly 90% of all packaged media sold in China (for about $1 in stores and street vendors) is pirated. Much of it originates from illegally recorded theatrical screenings.

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