Uncharted & The Batman Land Chinese Theatrical Release Dates

A pair of major Hollywood blockbusters are going to have the increasingly rare chance to cash in by getting a release in the world's largest moviegoing market. Both Warner Bros.' "The Batman" and Sony's "Uncharted" have secured release dates in China, giving them the opportunity to reach a much wider audience in a time when the box office is still on wildly uncertain ground as the industry attempts to emerge from the pandemic. That carries a lot of value but also isn't something that can be counted on anymore.

As reported by Deadline. "The Batman" will hit theaters in China on March 18, two weeks after it debuts in North America. Meanwhile, "Uncharted" is set to debut mid-week on March 14 following its arrival in U.S. theaters this weekend. The good news is that this gives the studios time to hatch marketing campaigns in an attempt to get movie lovers in the country on board with the pair of releases. In one case, a film centered on one of the most recognizable superheroes on the planet, and in the other, a movie based on a wildly popular video game franchise with some A-list star power.

Both movies carry with them franchise ambitions. Warner Bros. and director Matt Reeves would love to see "The Batman" spawn a new movie trilogy centered on Robert Pattinson's Caped Crusader (not to mention the spin-offs already in the works for HBO Max). At the same time, Sony Pictures would very much like "Uncharted" to kick off a franchise centered on Tom Holland's Nathan Drake, with Mark Wahlberg along for the ride(s). Though at the moment things look far better for the Dark Knight as "Uncharted" isn't tracking for a huge opening domestically.

The times are a-changin'

Prior to the pandemic, China had become deeply essential to the success of many Hollywood releases. Just look at "Venom," which earned an absolutely staggering $269 million in the Middle Kingdom alone, on its way to $856 million worldwide. Last year's "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" topped out at $501 million globally and it did not get a release in China (per The Numbers). While studios only keep around 25% of what is earned in China, that can still be a very sizable chunk of dough. Having overtaken the United States in recent years, the Chinese box office is now the largest market in the world, with the highest-grossing movie of 2021, "The Battle at Lake Changjin," coming from China.

But the Chinese film industry works very differently than it does in many other countries around the world, with government officials getting the final say on which foreign films are allowed to play on screens in the country. Just 39% of all imported movies last year were American, and just 28% of foreign films were new, as many of them were older titles, according to Variety. The situation is not expected to improve much, meaning that Hollywood has to rethink things.

The fact of the matter is that China can't be counted on anymore as a revenue stream for blockbusters. It can really only be viewed as icing on a cake, not the cake itself, as it were. It's yet another hurdle that cinema is going to have to overcome as the industry attempts to sort itself out in a post-pandemic landscape — but for "The Batman" and "Uncharted," landing these theatrical releases in China will offer a welcome box office boost.