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China Releasing Calendar to Remain Crowded

Benedict Cumberbatch’s “The Imitation Game” got a release in China on Tuesday (July 21), but Hollywood’s summer tentpoles will have to wait a little longer to open in the Middle Kingdom.

Local sources confirmed that “Terminator: Genisys” will open in China on Aug. 23, and “Minions” on Sept. 13.

Tom Cruise-starring “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,” in which Alibaba Pictures has an investment interest, will open in the plum Sept 8 spot.

After 2D and 3D opening day records were set last week, by “Pancake Man” and “Monster Hunt” respectively, as well as a new cumulative high for a Chinese-made animation (“Monkey King: Hero Is Back”), the box office chart is likely to remain dominated by Chinese-made titles for the near term.

Chinese regulators are currently operating one of the country’s seasonal blackout periods in which new releases of major Hollywood titles are excluded.

While Cumberbatch is considered a big star in China, following the online success of his “Sherlock” TV series, the film is flying British flag and is not in the blockbuster league. Cumberbatch was scheduled to travel to China in June, but local organizational issues meant that he was not able to visit the Shanghai festival as had been hoped by his handlers. The film opened with just over 7,000 screenings and scored $450,000 for fourth place at the box office.

Further, even with the benefit of the ‘blackout’ the dearth of release opportunities also affects Chinese movies and in the coming weeks there is a succession of significant local titles compete awkwardly for wide release outings. On July 30 Ringo Lam’s “Wild City” goes head to head with Fan Bingbing-starring “Lady of the Dynasty,” and part 2 of John Woo’s “The Crossing.”

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