Avatar in 3-D IMAX

Kunming has Yunnan's first and only IMAX theater. The theater is part of a complex of multiple high rise buildings housing shops, offices and residential dwellings in the heart of downtown Kunming. The development's shopping mall including the IMAX theater opened in January 2010.

When we arrived in town in late February the inaugural show Avatar was playing. Tickets for all shows were still in high demand and went on sale 3 days in advance. On a Tuesday right after lunch at Keats School, we scurried to the box office and secured tickets to see Avatar on the following Friday afternoon.

The 3-D IMAX show was in English with Chinese subtitles. While we had to imagine what the Pandorans were saying, Chinese subtitles translated these conversations as well. (At ordinary theaters the 3-D version is dubbed in Chinese.)

The central government closed all of the non-IMAX, non-3-D shows (the lowest ticket price) due to 'low box office receipts'. The real reason may be that government censors view the story as a bit too close to home: To make way for large-scale new or re-development, government routinely orders people off farmland or to vacate residential and commercial blocks. Not uncommonly, people protest what they view as government's heavy handed tactics.

Pirated versions of the show, dubbed in Chinese, are widely available on DVD, so anyone who wants to see the show can easily do so.

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