'Mummy' sequel clears China censors

Release likely in late August, after Olympics

HONG KONG -- Chinese officials have cleared the third installment of "The Mummy," a distributor said Wednesday, dispelling fears that the Hollywood thriller had run into problems with the government censors.

Earlier news reports said the China release of "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" had been delayed, raising speculation that the Universal Pictures film had been held up because of content. Chinese censors have twice declined comment on the movie to The Associated Press.

Although part of the production was shot in China, Chinese censors are known to be wary of movies about ghosts and superstition. The latest sequel sees explorer Rick O'Connell, played by Brendan Fraser, and his family battle a resurrected ancient Chinese emperor played by one of China's biggest star -- Jet Li.

Distributor Bill Kong said Wednesday Chinese censors cleared the movie, asking only for minor edits.

"We now have a certificate giving us permission to release the film in China," he said.

The distributor runs Hong Kong-based Edko Films, which distributes Universal movies in China.

But the movie will likely miss Director Rob Cohen's target premiere date of July 24 in Beijing, just before the Olympic Games being held in the Chinese capital from Aug. 8-24.

Kong said he now wants to release the movie in China after the Olympics so attention won't be distracted by the competition. The movie will be released in the United States on Aug. 1.

Kong said he wants to issue 1,200 copies of the movie in China, which has more than 3,500 screens.

Cohen shot the movie in a desert valley north of Beijing, where he filmed a battle scene involving the Chinese emperor, his 5,000 terra cotta warriors and the O'Connells, in Shanghai and Montreal, Canada.

The film also features Maria Bello, Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah and Luke Ford. Bello replaces Rachel Weisz, who played Rick's wife, Evelyn, in the first two installments.