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After weeks of speculation, Warner Bros.’ Gravity is finally set for liftoff in China next month after the Film Bureau approved its release in the world’s second-largest film market, state-backed news source Beijing News reported.
Gravity is currently racking up stellar box office earnings of $123.4 million worldwide, but there had been questions as to whether the movie starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock would get a Chinese release because the quota of 34 movies for the year is nearly full and films celebrating U.S. achievements in space generally don’t make the cut in China.
However, the movie is sympathetic to China — in one scene, Bullock’s character finds refuge in a Chinese ship, and there are several nods to China’s technological abilities throughout. The daily Beijing News said the movie had been approved by the censors. The Film Bureau could not be reached for comment.
After the space race during the Cold War era, space travel typically excites few in the West these days. But in China, the space program is seen as a great advertisement for the country’s growing technological progress.
China has done much to highlight its achievements in recent years, while traditional space pioneers, the U.S. and Russia, have mostly mothballed their manned orbital ambitions.
China first launched a man into space in 2003, followed by a two-man mission in 2005 and a three-man trip in 2008, which featured the country’s first space walk, making it the third nation after Russia and the United States to achieve manned space travel independently.
China’s efforts have recently focused on its manned flight program, sending two missions to temporarily crew the Tiangong 1 (Heavenly Palace) experimental space station. Launched in 2011, the station is due to be replaced by a three-module permanent station, Tiangong 2, in seven years.
China has gone it alone in space because it has been refused permission to join the 16-country International Space Program, mostly because the U.S. worries about military secrets passing to China. There was also a row earlier this month when NASA would not allow Chinese scientists to attend a conference in California.
Ultimately, the goal is to put a man on the moon. Even though China has only reached U.S. space race milestones of the 1960s, it is catching up fast.
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