'Twilight' falls in China

Vampire saga gets tryout in superstition-wary market

BEIJING -- Vampire movies will get a trial run in China with the Nov. 25 opening of "Twilight," as local censors and audiences gauge their thirst for blood in this superstition-wary market.

The film, which was bought for distribution on a flat fee basis, is both a late and surprise entry at the Chinese boxoffice. Along with 'District 9,' just out in limited release here, 'Twilight' is an unusual choice for China, where censors for years have shunned supernatural content and violence.

The release of "Twilight" by Huaxia Film Distribution Co. Ltd., one of only two companies authorized to handle foreign films in China, comes just after the Indian debut of the film Nov. 20. Both the India and China openings come on the heels of the global release of "New Moon," the second film in the series, on Nov. 16.

Films with supernatural and magic themes are tricky for Chinese censors, who have traditionally sought to keep them off local screens. The massive popularity of the "Harry Potter" series helped those films into China, but several of the films played only after significant cuts. Like the boy magician, Stephanie Meyer's vampire novels have been translated into Chinese and are freely available in local bookstores.

Hong Kong has had a long tradition of cinematic ghost stories and blood suckers, but those films have not received releases in China, reaching local audiences mostly via pirated DVDs.

While "New Moon" will also rise in India Dec. 4., state-run media cited unnamed sources at Huaxia as saying that film could get a run if "Twilight" performs well at the Chinese boxoffice.