The James Bond blockbuster Skyfall is off to a strong start in China, opening to $5.1 million on Monday.
Sony insiders say not many films opening on a Monday do such big business. Skyfall opened ahead of last summer's The Dark Knight Rises, which went on to gross $50 million in China, and did almost three times the business that previous 007 film Quantum of Solace did on its first day in 2008.
The tentpole, with a current worldwide cume of $1.04 billion, opened on a record 8,079 screens.
"On its final stop on a remarkable journey, Skyfall's long-awaited China opening does not disappoint," an insider noted.
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Chinese audiences, however, are seeing a slightly different version of director Sam Mendes' film after censors demanded that several scenes be deleted or altered, including shots of a Chinese character being killed and dialogue referring to prostitution and politics.
The missing scene was set in Shanghai, when a French hitman (played by Ola Rapace) is shown shooting a Chinese security guard in the elevator lobby of a skyscraper before preparing for an assassination.
Later in the film, in a casino in Macau, Daniel Craig’s Bond questions the story’s femme fatale, Severine (Berenice Marlohe), about whether her tattoo is the result of her being forced into a local prostitution ring at an early age. While the lines remains intact on the soundtrack, the Chinese subtitles suggest the spy is asking her about being coerced into the mob instead.
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The film’s Chinese subtitles also fudged the exposition of the back story of the film’s villain, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), who tells Bond how he was handed over to the Chinese authorities while working for the MI6 in Hong Kong. He adds that he suffered immense torture at the hands of his interrogators before attempting to kill himself.
It isn't uncommon for Hollywood films to be released in China with potentially politically or culturally controversial scenes edited out.