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Yao documentary to open today
15/7/2005 7:44

Zhou Zuyi/Shanghai Daily news

One of the city's top sports stars is set to make his big screen debut in Shanghai today when a documentary about his life opens at local cinemas.
"The Year of Yao," a look at Yao Ming's first year living in America and playing in the NBA, will play at a dozen theaters in the city, including Studio City on Nanjing Road W. and the Paradise Warner in Xujiahui.
The Chinese mainland premiere of the 90-minute film drew a full house in Beijing yesterday, but distributors are keeping the movie's Shanghai debut low key.
"No special promotions are planned by the distributors for the film," said Zhang Yi, a clerk at Studio City. "That makes it hard, I think, for the movie to compete against other summer blockbusters."
The digital film, which will only be shown in cinemas with IMAX facilities, was a flop in the United States, where it took in only US$26,000 in box office receipts when it opened in 12 theaters in April. The movie, which was produced by the NBA's entertainment arm, earned good reviews in the United States, although many critics said it didn't look deeply into issues like race and culture.
Yao's huge following in the city should ensure a large audience for the film.
"This is something one can't miss out on as a Yao supporter," said Cao Zhanghua, a high school student and basketball fan. "I think many of the fans will be interested to take a retrospective look into Yao's journey to superstardom."
Yao was supposed to take part in the film's premiere in Beijing yesterday, but had to cancel due to a schedule conflict. He is in the capital for a basketball camp with several other NBA stars. "I recommend all my fans watch it," Yao said in Beijing on Wednesday.  "In China, you don't look back on your life until you are into 50s or 60s. But the producers argued that it made sense to document a very special chapter in my life when the memories of it are still fresh."