Summary: "...science fiction mania spreads throughout China's capital this summer."
BEIJING (Xinhuanet) -- One picture shows a wrinkly face from outer space with an ear-to-ear smile, and another, the beaming outer space visitor and his earthling friend flying on a bicycle silhouetted against the moon.
These are two of the 11 images on a series of ET T-shirts beingwidely worn in Beijing as science fiction mania spreads throughout China's capital this summer.
Just one month ago, Steven Spielberg's new version of "ET", a classic movie about a stranded space alien who befriends an American boy, was being played at almost all the cinemas in Beijing.
Smart businesses seized a golden opportunity to sell T-shirts by printing the images from the original ET movie before the new one was released, resulting in scores of Beijingers bearing the amiable alien's face.
Now alien-watchers are queuing to get tickets for another American blockbuster, "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones".
Just three days after the release of Star Wars, the box office takings in Beijing hit 2.5 million yuan (301,200 US dollars). Thisexceeded the joint takings of "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" in their first three days.
In addition to record box office sales, Li Xuelei, director of Bossini brand promotion in Beijing, said a record 80,000 T-shirts have been sold in a single month, making the most successful movie- clothes marriage ever.
Li said demand is particularly high for the T-shirt showing ET and his buddy flying past the moon.
Other products connected to extraterrestrial beings are suddenly appearing. Following the film success, a new book series of Star Wars quickly found its way to Beijing bookstore shelves.
According to the statistics from the Beijing Bookstore Building,one of the country's largest bookstores, in less than 10 days, 248copies of "Episode I" and 311 copies of "Episode II" have sold. Both copies are priced at 25 yuan (3.1 US dollars) or higher, yet sales are expected to soar when the movie finishes in Beijing.
Xinghe, a noted Chinese science fiction writer, said extraterrestrial beings used to be a touchy topic in China as there was fear that delving too deeply could bring "social chaos".However, as society has become more open to new ideas, people havebecome more comfortable with the subject.
He also said, "The improvement in living standards leads to more time to think about things like the mysteries of outer space."
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