A source close to the situation told Variety the film has been accepted into China, though Warner Bros. has yet to receive the official confirmation letter from China Film. The 3D film, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, will be released on the mainland in early November.
“Gravity” has been dominating the U.S. box office the past two weekends, and China represents the second-largest film market in the world.
There had been doubts the film would receive a release in China because the quota of 34 movies for the year is nearly full and the last month of the year is habitually a time reserved only for Chinese-made pictures. However, in practice, the quota system has often included a degree of flexibility, allowing the regulator, the Film Bureau, and the sole authorized importer and distributor China Film Group to increase or decrease the total by one or two titles.
As a profit maximizing enterprise in the run up to a stock market listing it is very much in China Film Group’s financial interest to handle the US films that it thinks will do best at the Chinese box office.
In that respect, “Gravity” seems tailor-made for China. Not only has the film been a hit — so far, “Gravity” has taken in $123.4 million worldwide — it is playing strongly on Imax screens. China has the world’s second largest total of Imax screens after North America.
As a possible bonus, the film even makes a couple of positive references to China, with Bullock’s character at one stage taking refuge in a Chinese space station.