The wait is finally over. Even as Twilight Saga: New Moon swept the world, the first in the series, Twilight, hit the big screen across the city on Wednesday.
Can Edward Cullen, the mystical young vampire of this teenage vampire series by Stephanie Meyer, retain its appeal for Chinese moviegoers?
Chinese audiences are, of course, familiar with this genre, from the Dracula-series Mr. Vampire (1985) - one of the genre's most influential productions in terms of number of sequels - to the Hong Kong-made Spritual Boxer (1979, Lau Kar-leung) and Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980, Sammo Hung Kam-bo).
But in Twilight, the vampires from the Cullen family, especially Edward, are very different. Played by British actor Robert Pattinson, he is tall and blonde, and is high school girl Bella's protector and lover. The two find each other dangerously irresistible, despite theirs being a forbidden love. The movie also shows the vampire as a vegetarian, who has animal rather than human blood.
Like any other Hollywood romance, Twilight has the usual good-looking boys and girls. Millions of women have became obsessed with the handsome, cool vampire when the series opened last year. The 23-year-old has been flying high after appearing in the last Harry Potter movie. The lead actress, Kristen Stewart, who plays Edward's Juliet, has also become quite a sensation.
The Chinese distributor says that if Twilight does well at the box office, they will also bring in New Moon. However, Chinese fans have already spoken. According to Douban.com, one of the most popular networking websites in China which has a large number of people posting their reviews on music, books and movie, the movie garnered an average 7.5 stars from 70,459 voters.
The other film that opened on Thursday at cinemas citywide is District 9, a small budget alien movie, which took less than US$30 million to make and grossed over US$184 million worldwide, opens this weekend in Beijing.
The sci-fi action thriller opens with a series of documentary-style interviews. Set in South Africa 20 years ago, District 9 depicts aliens as unwanted immigrants in downtown Johannesburg.
Directed and co-written by South African native Neil Blomkamp, the movie is adapted from Alive in Joburg, a 2005 short film directed by Blomkamp. District 9 is his debut feature directorial work.
The movie is produced by Peter Jackson, the man behind the blockbuster, Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson had planned to be in China to promote the new movie, but could not make it. However, he has personally edited the version for release in China.
The cast includes South African rising star Sharlto Copley who plays a bureaucrat leading the aliens from a Johannesburg slum, called District 9, where they settle after their ship gets stranded there.
It is not just technically brilliant and thrilling, but also challenges audiences by raising wrenching issues, when the protagonist witnesses brutal scientific experiments in which alien bodies are treated as mere laboratory material.
The director knows his hometown, Johannesburg, where the film is set, well. Black people were forced to live on the outskirts as droves of migrant workers came from all over the country, hoping to earn a living in the gold mines, and the slums multiplied.
Other films showing at cinemas include:
G-Force, Mu Lan, 2012, Panda Express and The Robbers