China looks set to delay the bows of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two” to make sure nothing spoils the June run of propaganda epic “Beginning of the Great Revival.”
There are regular no-go periods for foreign movies aimed at stopping Hollywood pics swamping local fare, and the strong political backing for “Revival,” celebrating the Chinese Communist Party’s 90th birthday, means the film has to be a success.
“Revival,” a companion piece to 2009’s “The Founding of a Republic,” bows June 8 and goes nationwide a week later.
Par moved up the international release of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” to June 29 from early July, but there are reports that the movie will not open in China until late July.
Paramount in China declined to comment on the date, and the China Film Group said it did not know the details.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two” goes on release internationally on July 15, but this also looks like being delayed in China, according to sources, depending on how “Revival” does at the box office.
Regulators are also holding off on releasing major Chinese pics in June, with the exception of “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” produced by Rupert Murdoch’s wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch and Florence Low Sloan, wife of MGM’s former CEO Harry E Sloan, which bows June 23.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” took $63 million in B.O. receipts, overtaking “Titanic” as China’s most popular pic ever until it was in turn overturned by “Avatar,” which took a staggering $190 million in China, the pic’s second best performance after the US.
“Beginning of the Great Revival” deals with the three phases of the beginnings of the Communist Party, which still runs China as a single-party state and has 78 million members.
“Revival” stars 150 of China biggest names, including Andy Lau, Daniel Wu and John Woo.
The young Mao is played by heartthrob Liu Ye, and the film is part of the Communist Party’s efforts to present a modern image.
Pic has already generated controversy. Thesp Tang Wei, who was purged for her steamy role in Ang Lee’s erotic thriller “Lust, Caution” but has been rehabilitated in recent months, was cast as Tao Yi, an early girlfriend of Mao’s. However, Chairman Mao’s grandson Mao Xinyu, a major-general in the People’s Liberation Army, apparently intervened to have her cut out of the movie.
“Revival” is expected to make major waves at the Chinese box office after the huge success of “Founding,” which was the top-performing Chinese movie two years ago. It’s also a high-profile blast of nationalism at a time when the Chinese biz is booming, taking in $1.5 billion at the B.O. last year.