Fact: Casino Royale became the first film from the James Bond series to be cleared by Chinese censors. The 2006 film starring Daniel Craig was the 21st in the series and the first one to feature the actor in the iconic role.
This was the first time that the Chinese executives allowed the movie to be screened in the country without demanding changes. Although James Bond films in order became available in the form of pirate copies, Casino Royale was the first one officially and legally screened. Since then, it has been the last James Bond movie in China to be uncensored. This signaled a changing attitude towards gambling themes by the Chinese government.
Casino Royale opened in China on January 30, over two months after its official premiere. The country has a policy of accepting no more than 20 foreign films per year. The ones that make it to the local cinemas are usually censored and cut in a way that is deemed acceptable by the government.
Gambling in China is illegal and it was believed that the film would be blacklisted for its heavy casino themes. So, it comes as a surprise that the film passed without any censorship. Perhaps this is because China is slowly opening up to the establishment of casinos on the mainland. In fact, many Chinese citizens go on gambling excursions in countries like the USA or Australia. Is the film’s approval a sign that the law will change? Or was it merely a stroke of luck with the censor board?
The Chinese scrutiny process is a really thorough and often bizzare one. Mission Impossible III was criticized because of laundry lines featuring underwear in the heart of Shanghai. Quite faux pas. The film eventually got the approval of Chinese censors.