Just when you thought 2018 couldn’t get any stranger, Winnie the Pooh has become a polarizing political figure…in China? And it’s not because of his lack of pants, nor his habit of stealing honey from bees (what’s up with that, Pooh!), but because he apparently has a striking resemblance to the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping. Because of that, a Christopher Robin China release has been denied by the country, as the Chinese government cracks down on all images of the silly old bear.
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi wasn’t the movie that Chinese audiences were looking for. The science-fiction sequel tanked in China, following up a disappointing $28.7 million debut with one of the worst second-weekend declines the Chinese box office had ever seen. To kick the movie while it was down, it came in second that weekend to the third film in a sexist domestic romantic-comedy series, The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes.
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China’s influence on Hollywood in the past few years is palpable, with major blockbusters inserting storylines and characters to specifically cater to Chinese audiences and studios depending on overseas audiences to save critically slammed blockbusters. But Hollywood may soon find that all that pandering hasn’t paid off.
Chinese theaters have been reportedly skimming millions of dollars in ticket revenue from Hollywood studios, with as much as 9% of ticket sales going underreported in 2016. With 2017’s summer box office haul recording as one of the worst Hollywood has seen in decades, what does this mean for the overall box office numbers?
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This weekend brings the release of the video game-infused sci-fi action comedy Pixels, and with a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems pretty clear that Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison production banner have botched an awesome concept with juvenile comedy. Not even supporting cast members like Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage can save the movie.
This is even more frustrating when you learn that Sony went out of their way to change the script for Pixels in order to avoid potential problems with authorities in China, but couldn’t be bothered to make sure the rest of the script was better. Find out about the pandering Pixels script changes for China after the jump! Read More »
Hollywood loves Chinese money, as the film audience in China makes up a significant portion of potential global box-office. As we’ve heard many times before, productions will shoot in China and/or cast Chinese actors not only to attract the local audience, but to qualify for distribution in the country. Some films, such as Looper and Iron Man 3, have even crafted China-specific versions.
Now Transformers 4 will cast Chinese actors and shoot footage in the country, the better to secure co-production status and thus a prime Chinese release opportunity. (China’s state regulations allow only a limited number of foreign films to play in a given year. Co-production status helps American studios skirt around release restrictions, as the film becomes technically a Chinese production.)
In a related note, there’s a report claiming that Paramount is making a slight change to World War Z in order to forestall controversy in China. Read More »
It seems that Warner Brothers has given up fighting Chinese censors for a theatrical release of The Dark Knight. Instead, WB is going to skip the film’s release altogether. In a statement on Tuesday, the studio disclosed the following:
“Based on a number of pre-release conditions that are being attached to ‘The Dark Knight’ as well as cultural sensitivities to some elements of the film, we have opted to forego a theatrical release of the film in China.”
It’s not surprising that Warner has had trouble getting the film through Chinese censors. The film is after all about an American vigilante who (spoilers?) illegally travels to China to kidnap a Chinese businessman with ties to mob money. Said vigilante does other stuff too (I think a clown is involved?), but I’m fairly certain it’s the above that has China up in arms.
China’s censors only allow 20 foreign films into the country every year, and given the large role Hong Kong plays in The Dark Knight’s plot, I don’t think WB could have ever made them happy. In the end, this seems like a wise move. I’m fairly certain that this decision implies that WB won’t be releasing an official DVD/Bluray of the film either, but somehow I don’t think the Chinese moviegoing public will be denied their Dark Knight fix.