Will Smith’s “I Am Legend” received a full-scale consumer press junket in Hong Kong on Friday, but despite the best efforts of its star and producers the film won’t open in China anytime soon.
“We struggled very, very hard to try to get it to work out, but there are only a certain amount of foreign films that are allowed in,” Smith said, according to press reports. “‘I Am Legend,’ as yet, has not been one of the films that has been accepted,” he said.
Smith apparently met with Han Sanping, head of China Film Group, the mainland’s dominant distributor, to plead for a release slot.
China regularly institutes a blackout period in December during which foreign films are prevented from being released. Move is usually intended to maximize the chances of local films at the busiest period of the year for cinemagoing in China.
Hollywood companies said they have not been given any release slots in January or February (Daily Variety, Dec. 6), but Chinese authorities denied that this amounts to a ban on U.S. films.
Smith said he had met with hyphenate Stephen Chow with a view to developing projects together. Pictures made with Chow’s company would potentially qualify as Chinese co-productions and not be subject to the import restrictions imposed on other Hollywood movies.