The Hollywood blockbuster
has become China's all-time box-office champion, as officials confirmed a controversial plan to pull the 2D version of the film early from theatres.The futuristic adventure had grossed 540 million yuan (80 milliondollars),
news agency reported, attributing the figures to thenation's film regulator Tong Gang.
That puts the movie, which was released in both 2D and 3D versions, ahead of the disaster epic 2012, which raked in 460 million yuan until its nationwide release ended last month.
But Friday will be the last day that Chinese movie-goers can catch ascreening of the 2D version of Avatar, the Global Times newspaper said,quoting an official with China Film Group, which controls movie distribution.
Reports that the hugely popular movie would be pulled ahead of schedule had sparked a furore on the Chinese Internet amid charges the government had shunted it aside to make way for the patriotic biopic Confucius.The release of Confucius comes as his teachings on peace, social harmony, and respect for authority have enjoyed a renaissance in China,backed by the ruling Communist Party, after being suppressed during theradical Mao years.
Officials at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television filmregulator and China Film Group declined to comment when contacted by AFP. Xinhua quoted Zhang Hongsen, deputy director of the state regulator's film bureau, as saying the film's run was being ended for commercial, notpolitical reasons, "because the box office returns of the 2D version had been low."
The report said the 2D version had accounted for one-third of its total revenue in China.
The film bureau has said the 3D version would continue to be screened in China until February 28, as previously planned.
Some movie-goers have alleged the government is nervous about Avatar due to its portrayal of a tribe's fight against humans chasing them from their land on a far-off planet.
Some have drawn parallels to a rash of forced land evictions in China,which have recently sparked violent clashes.