How Malignant Scored A Rare Day-And-Date Release In China

American horror movies don't usually fare well in China, if only because so few of them ever make it past government censorship. James Wan's new film, "Malignant," however, landed a rare deal enabling it to release on streaming platforms in China the same day it hit theaters in the U.S.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Malignant" did score "a rare day-and-date streaming release in China," becoming "the first R-rated U.S. horror movie to ever score distribution" there. It helps that Starlight Culture Entertainment, one of the five production companies behind the film (via IMDb), is China-based and "positioned as the film's lead investor," per THR. New Line Cinema and Wan's own Atomic Monster co-produce along with Boom Entertainment and Boom! Studios.

"Malignant" opened Stateside this weekend; our review calls it a "bloody, bonkers return to horror" for Wan, who first rose to fame with scary franchise starters like "Saw" and "Insidious" before crossing over into more established film series with "Furious 7" and DC's "Aquaman." Those latter two movies seem more like the kind of films you would expect to open same-day in America and China. They're four-corner releases with broad blockbuster appeal.

Yet even that doesn't always guarantee a release for U.S. studio tentpoles, as Marvel is learning the hard way with "Shang-Chi" and "Eternals," both of which face an uncertain release in China now due to the government's intolerance for any past remarks, on the part of filmmakers, that are even remotely critical of it or the country.

"A Few Judicious Cuts"

Recently, we've been hearing some casting news about the new "Haunted Mansion" movie, for instance, but even a film like that might not have a great prospect of seeing the light of day (let alone day-and-date) in China. The theme park attraction it's based on is cloned across several Disneylands across the world, but in Hong Kong Disneyland, they have a different ride, Mystic Manor, which has a different theme — with any references to ghosts removed because of cultural differences and traditional Chinese views on the afterlife.

Wan is Australian but he is of Chinese descent, and he was reportedly able to work closely with Starlight "to make a few judicious cuts" to "Malignant" and thereby secure a Chinese release for it. This isn't unusual, as Hollywood films as are often re-edited for their release in China.

What's not quite clear yet is what exactly was cut and if the cuts were to make this R-rated feature more of a PG-13. In the past, being on the level of that rating is what has allowed some horror films like "A Quiet Place" to slip through the censorship filter into China.

"Malignant" is currently playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.