With a Jan. 1 theatrical outing, “Baby” will be the first import film of the year in Chinese theaters. It has a window of less than a week ahead of “Rogue One,” which goes wide on Jan. 6 in the Middle Kingdom.
“Kubo,” which released in North America in August, goes out one week later, on Jan. 13. That will be the first release of a Laika movie in China. The country operates multiple systems of import quotas for revenue sharing and flat fee imports.
While the “Baby” is third film in the “Jones” franchise it will be the first to release in China. China’s Perfect World is designated as a producer of “Baby,” meaning that the Chinese games to film conglomerate is expected to play a significant part in the film’s marketing and promotion.
Perfect World earned that status through the slate funding deal with Universal that it inked in January this year. The film’s other producers are the U.K.’s Working Title Films, Working Title’s joint owners Universal and Studiocanal, and Miramax.
Though release slots for foreign films are decided by state-controlled regulators and outings can be confirmed at quite short notice, these three look likely to be the only significant Hollywood titles that will open in China in January.
Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) falls early in 2017, starting from Jan. 28, and is the largest holiday period of the year in China. With it usually comes both a crop of major Chinese film releases and a blackout period, during which new-release import films are barred.
Already 11 Chinese titles are announced to release on Jan. 28. They include Jackie Chan-starring China-India co-production “Kung Fu Yoga” and the Stephen Chow-produced “Journey to the West 2.”
Earlier this year, when Chinese New Year fell in February, the Stephen Chow-directed comedy fantasy “The Mermaid” broke the all-time, all-comers box office record with “The Mermaid” which scored $527 million.