Hollywood Heads for Crowded June in Chinese Theaters

“The Angry Birds Movie” opened well in China over the past weekend with a cute $30 million. But it stands to have its wings clipped by a flock of Hollywood new releases in the Middle Kingdom.

Disney’s “Alice Through The Looking Glass” will release on May 27 in China. Its opening should top the Chinese box office charts and finish off the theatrical run of “Captain America: Civil War.”

The early summer releasing calendar in China is a squeeze that reflects a combination of Hollywood’s own summer blockbuster season as well as the anticipated “blackout period.” The blackout usually starts in July when major imported films are not allowed fresh releases, though holdovers can continue.

Observers are unclear if the restrictions on the Hollywood imports to last as long as they did last year, when they ran some six weeks. Chinese-made films got off to a powerful start in 2016, boosted by a spectacular Chinese New Year period in February. But with box office overall soft in April, the Hollywood market share has rebounded.

The well-established “X-Men” franchise launches its next episode “X-Men: Apocalypse” on June 3. Playing to a similar demographic segment and also coming with high awareness, game adaptation “Warcraft” will compete for Chinese screens just five days later on June 8.

Warcraft” has a pack of significant Chinese investors and its handlers are confident that, despite the crowded month, it will open strongly. It has a nine day window before the release of more family skewing “Finding Dory” on June 17.

“Independence Day: Resurgence” and Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me 2” will both clamor for screens from 24 June.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” releases a week later, from July 2. That is roughly a week later than its stateside outing, but counts both Alibaba and Wanda’s Movie Media as investors. The presence of such heavyweight Chinese firms — Wanda Cinema Line is also the country’s largest private sector exhibition chain, and Alibaba one of the top ticketing platforms — as marketing partners should ensure a well-supported launch ahead of the blackout period.

One of the bigger Chinese films headed for a June release is “The Bombing,” a Chinese made war actioner featuring Bruce Willis, but its date is not locked down. Also the much-anticipated star-heavy Chinese action film “Bounty Hunters” has shifted from June to a July slot.

Upcoming Hollywood releases in China

Alice Through The Looking Glass”  May 27, 2016
“X-Men Apocalypse” June 3, 2016
“Warcraft” June 8, 2016
“Finding Dory”  June 17, 2016
“Independence Day: Resurgence”  June 24, 2016
“Now You See Me 2” June 24, 2016
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”  July 2, 2016

  • Chinese media are also reporting that the 3D converted version of “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” has already been cleared for a release in October. The release is backed by DMG and will come some 25 years after the original film hit screens worldwide – excluding China. China has seen the success of other 3D conversions including “Titanic” ($140 million in 2012) and “Jurassic Park” ($56 million in 2013.)

 

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