'Slumdog' ready for China release

Oscar champ hits 2,000 screens next week

HONG KONG -- Academy Award-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" has secured a coveted slot as one of 20 major foreign movies that China will import this year, a distributor said Wednesday.

Many Hollywood movies miss out on the booming Chinese cinema market because of the annual quota, and others are weeded out by the censorship process. Chinese censors are wary of unflattering portrayals of the country and its people, explicit sex and violence and sensitive topics like Tibet.

But "Slumdog Millionaire" cleared Chinese censors easily, Zhang Hongyan, a publicist for the distributor, Hong Kong-based Edko Film, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday.

Director Danny Boyle will attend the British movie's premiere in Beijing next Wednesday, with the film going on general release in at least 2,000 theaters across China the next day, Zhang said.

"Slumdog Millionaire" tells the story of an 18-year-old orphan who rises from the streets of Mumbai to become the biggest winner ever on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." It won eight Oscars, including best picture and best director for Boyle.

China only allows 20 foreign movie imports per year on a revenue-sharing basis, as opposed to buying distribution rights for a flat fee. Hollywood studios prefer the revenue-sharing model so they can make more money if the movie is a big hit.

Many Chinese are likely to have already seen "Slumdog Millionaire" on bootleg DVD in a country where piracy is rampant. Nevertheless, the movie's official China release will help it improve on already impressive box office results.

The $15 million production has made $133 million in the U.S. and $135 million in other regions, according to the box office tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.