Not shaken, not stirred... and in China for first time POSTED: 1259 GMT (2059 HKT), January 29, 2007 BEIJING, China
(Reuters) -- Chinese audiences got their first chance to see James Bond in action on the big screen on Monday -- uncut and uncensored.
"Ling ling qi" -- Chinese for 007 -- has never before been officially released in the world's most populous country, and new James Bond Daniel Craig and leading lady Eva Green flew in especially for the event.
"It's been an ambition of mine to get here, and I wish I had more time," a casually dressed Craig told reporters while sipping coffee in a five-star Beijing hotel ahead of the premier.
Poor quality pirated DVD versions of "Casino Royale" have been available on China's streets for weeks, costing just a little more than $1 and underlining the risk movie makers face in the world's most populous country.
"It hasn't premiered here yet, but I think it's been seen here," Craig lamented.
"Someone tried to sell me a copy last night," he added. "I was wearing a hat and glasses so they didn't recognize me."
"I understand the reality of the situation and it saddens me, not just because of the effect it has on the movie industry but because going to the cinema is a great experience," said Craig, referring to copyright piracy.
"You're missing out by watching a bad copy of a DVD with no sound and bad picture quality. As far as I'm concerned cinema is a collective experience and you get 50 percent more by going to the cinema."
Executives expect the film -- in which a moodier, more chiseled Bond battles an evil banker to the world's terrorists -- to be the biggest grossing foreign movie ever in China, with receipts seen exceeding 100 million yuan ($12.86 million).
It has already earnt some $350 million worldwide.
Director Martin Campbell admitted he was unsure of the reaction the film would get in China, but said he was pleased Chinese would finally get a chance to see Bond up close.
"After 21 films, it's obviously very significant, given that we are the first Bond film to be shown here," he said. "The fact that we got it through without any censor cuts at all seems to me to be some kind of achievement."
China only permits a small number of Western movies be shown at cinemas every year, and even then films can run into problems with the Chinese censor for political or moral content.
But not "Casino Royale".
"I don't think they mind the violence. It's interesting that we had a tiny bit cut in England, and we had a little bit of the violence trimmed in America," the New Zealand-born Campbell said.
The full, original version is being shown in China both dubbed into Chinese and in the original English.
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