×

Mission Improbable as Jia Zhangke’s ‘Mountains’ Releases in China Against ‘Rogue Nation’

Going up against the release of Alibaba-backed “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is a tall order for any film in China. That, however, is the challenge being taken up by Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke and “Mountains May Depart,” his drama which premiered in competition in Cannes.

For Jia, who has been acclaimed overseas as one of the most important directors of his generation, getting a release at all in his native China already represents progress. His previous film “A Touch of Sin,” was widely distributed abroad, but has been denied an outing in Chinese theaters.

“Mountains” releases Tuesday (Sept. 8) in a limited number of theaters in and around Shanghai, the same day that the Tom Cruise action vehicle “Rogue Nation” releases nationwide and is expected to dominate China’s charts.

The limited run for “Mountains” is intended to allow the film the commercial run necessary for it to qualify as China’s foreign language contender in the Academy Awards race. Academy rules require a minimum of a week of commercial screenings before the submissions deadline at the end of the month. (While some media have reported that Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Wolf Totem” will get the Oscars nod from the Film Bureau, China has not yet made an official pronouncement.)

The Shanghai outing will also build word of mouth ahead of a much wider release for the picture in October. “Mountains” will get its own nationwide outing on 5,300 DCP copies on Oct. 30.

“Given that his last film was denied a release in China, this is a very important step forward,” a source close to the production told Variety.

In a career spanning 15 years, Jia has documented the human scale effects of the huge social and political upheavals undergone by China as it has hauled itself from poverty to economic superpower status.

While “A Touch of Sin” was co-produced with the state-owned Shanghai Film Group and was repeatedly promised a release, the film touches on too many politically sensitive topics – corrupt local officials, prostitution, worker suicides at mega-factories – for China’s censors to stomach. Backed by the same group of co-producers, “Mountains,” in contrast, raises fewer red flags. Still melancholy, its key themes include displacement and emigration. The third act takes place in a futuristic, English-speaking China relocated to Australia.

“Mountains”, which screens in the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, has again been a strong international hit for sales agent MK2.

Rights have been acquired by foreign distributors in U.S. (Kino Lorber), U.K. (New Wave), Benelux (ABC Distribution), Brazil (Imovision), Canada (Filmswelike), Columbia (Babilla), Ex-Yugoslavia (MCF Megacom), France (Ad Vitam), Greece (AMA Films), Italy (Cinema), Middle East (Moving Turtle), Poland (Against Gravity), Portugal (Midas), SE Asia (Astro Shaw), Spain (Golem), Switzerland (Filmcoopi); Taiwan (Joint Entertainment), Tunisia (Hakka), Turkey (Kalinos) and Eastern Europe (HBO Europe). Airline rights outside France and Japan were licensed to Encore Inflight.

Walter Salles’ documentary about Jia, “A Guy From Fenyang” will play at the upcoming New York Film Festival. And both films will be released together in France, the U.S. and U.K.

More Film

  • Tarantino Movies Ranked Illustration

    All of Quentin Tarantino's Movies Ranked

    In the history of cinema, has any director done more to elevate the idea of movies as cool than Quentin Tarantino? Certainly, the idea that films could be made by fans dates back at least to the French New Wave, when a group of die-hard critics stepped behind the camera. A few years later, Spielberg, [...]

  • A Stranger on the Beach

    Anonymous Content Wins Film Rights to Michele Campbell's 'A Stranger on the Beach' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anonymous Content has won the adaptive rights to the forthcoming Michele Campbell novel “A Stranger on the Beach.” In a competitive situation, Anonymous outbid multiple players for the thriller, which it will adapt for the big screen with in-house producers Alex Goldstone and Rosalie Swedlin. “Stranger” has been likened to sensual thrillers like “Fatal Attraction” [...]

  • Ridley Scott Matt Damon Ben Affleck

    Ridley Scott, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener Team on 'The Last Duel'

    Ridley Scott looks to have his next directing job, as he has signed on to direct “The Last Duel” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck attached to star. Damon and Affleck co-wrote the script with Oscar-nominated Nicole Holofcener. Scott, Damon and Affleck all producing along with Scott’s producing partner Kevin Walsh. Drew Vinton is also [...]

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor Comic Con

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the biggest volume of buzz for nine of the top 10 [...]

  • Chris Rock - Netflix

    Chris Rock's 'Saw' Reboot Moves Up Five Months to May 2020

    Lionsgate has moved Chris Rock’s upcoming “Saw” reboot forward by five months to May 15, 2020, vacating the pre-Halloween date of Oct. 23, 2020. The studio indicated Monday that it decided to move the untitled “Saw” movie into the summer slot after seeing early footage from the set of the film currently shooting in Toronto. The move [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content