Beijing theaters close for Games opening

Cinemas to reopen Saturday; closure limited to capital

BEIJING -- Cinemas closed early in China's capital Friday, showing their last screenings of "Kung Fu Panda," "Red Cliff" and other films about four hours before the 8 p.m. start of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

By order of the local government, cinema circuits Wanda Cinemas and UME, two of the chains in Beijing with modern, air-conditioned theaters, closed at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, at the end of their last screenings, cinema officials said.

No reason was given for the closure, but little business will be lost as the Olympics are expected to draw an enormous audience, estimated at 4 billion worldwide. The cinemas will reopen Saturday, a UME official said. Wanda's cinemas in port city Dalian remained open Friday.