- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HONG KONG —

It may boast groundbreaking 3-D effects, but English-speaking viewers of “Avatar” have been left in the dark by the film’s alien dialogue after Hong Kong cinemas offered only a Chinese translation.

The computer-graphics-laden production by “Titanic” director James Cameron, which follows the exploits of a paraplegic army veteran in the alien world of the Na’vis, has raked in more than $2 million in Hong Kong since its release in mid-December.

Despite its box-office success, Western moviegoers have complained that Na’vi dialogue is impenetrable — unless they can read Chinese.

“While we both thoroughly enjoyed the film, we were somewhat disturbed and frustrated that the alien Na’vi dialogue only had Chinese subtitles,” moviegoer Nic Tinworth told the Sunday Morning Post.

Olivier De Molina told the Post that although the dialogue was not integral to the story, it “would have been nice to get everything. I just assumed that everything in Hong Kong is in both English and Chinese.”

The local distributor of the movie, 20th Century Fox Hong Kong, refused to explain why no English subtitles were provided in some cinemas, the Post said.

The company’s spokesman told the newspaper it was “processing” the issue.

He added that English subtitles for the movie were provided in eight local cinemas, although seven of them only showed its 2-D version.

Chinese and English are the official languages of Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997. The city’s cinemas normally provide subtitles in both Chinese and English if a movie is produced in a third language.

The $300 million “Avatar” was Mr. Cameron’s first project with fellow Hollywood producer Jon Landau since the pair scooped 11 Oscars with “Titanic” in 1998.

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