×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Dunkirk’ Gets September China Release After Summer Blackout (EXCLUSIVE)

Christopher Nolan’s war and action drama “Dunkirk” has been approved by Chinese censors and given a Sept. 1 theatrical release date.

The date means a gap of more than six weeks between the film’s North American outing next week and its Chinese premiere, and adds to mounting evidence that China has restored its unofficial summer blackout period, when only local titles are released.

While several foreign movies are understood to have been cleared by government censors, many have not yet received release dates. These include “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which is currently on release in most of the world, and Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which has its global rollout later this month – bar China.

That “Valerian” does not have a confirmed date is particularly disappointing for Besson’s EuropaCorp. Not only is EuropaCorp now substantially owned by China’s Fundamental Films, but the expensive sci-fi thriller also received production finance from Fundamental and features Kris Wu, a star in China, in a prominent role.

The effective summer blackout is set to end Aug. 25 when both “Cars 3” and “Baby Driver” cruise into Chinese multiplexes. “Dunkirk” follows on Sept. 1. The only other U.S. film currently known to have an August release date is “My Other Home,” which goes out Aug. 11, but that film, from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, has a significant Chinese component in that it was produced by Beijing Forbidden City Film and dramatizes the life of basketball star Stephon Marbury as he discovers China.

Chinese regulators traditionally reserve anywhere between four to six weeks in July and August for local titles, shunning Hollywood fare in order to shore up the Chinese movies’ performance at the box office. The move, along with similar periods during Chinese New Year and late December, allows China to control market share and ensure that Chinese-language films end the year with 55% to 60% of the annual Chinese box office.

The summer blackouts have varied in duration and intensity from year to year. In 2015, to maximize revenues for China’s “Monster Hunt,” the blackout was prolonged. But last year, when it was becoming increasingly clear that the decade of almost unbroken box-office growth was slowing, the blackout was shortened and Hollywood tentpoles allowed in earlier than usual to keep the turnstiles spinning.

There had been hope in some Hollywood quarters that this summer’s blackout might not be as restrictive as in 2015. That’s because China’s overall box office this year has largely been kept afloat by American titles – Chinese films have largely failed outside of the Chinese New Year bonanza period – and because last year the import quota for foreign movies was substantially eased.

The blackout periods are a contentious point that will be discussed by trade negotiators in the current round of film industry talks between the Chinese and U.S. governments. The talks also cover issues including quotas, revenue share, and distribution conditions.

More Film

  • Arca, Cacerola, Viento del Norte, Panda

    Arca, Cacerola, Viento del Norte, Panda Team on ‘Mental Health Not Included’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — In a return to film production after serving as president of Argentina’s National Institute of Film and the Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) and then as a member of parliament, film producer Liliana Mazure is teaming with prestigious counterparts in Mexico and Brazil on a three-part, pan-regional dark comedy, “Mental Health Not Included.” Lead [...]

  • IFFAM and Variety Celebrate Asian Talent

    IFFAM and Variety Celebrate Asian Talent Up Next

    The International Film Festival and Awards Macao and Variety combined forces for the second year running to put a spotlight on Asia’s acting talent. A well-attended meet-the-stars press event on Friday afternoon in Macau was addressed by leading local official, Maria Helena Senna de Fernandes. She turned the microphone over the five actors from different [...]

  • Panorama, Delicious Team for Bernardo de

    Panorama, Delicious Team for Bernardo de la Rosa’s ‘Mario’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — One of Mexico’s highest-flying production houses whose latest movie production, “I’m No Longer Here,” screens as a work on progress at Ventana Sur, Gerardo Gática and Alberto Muffelmann’s Panorama Global, will produce “Mario,” a bio series directed by Bernardo de la Rosa which underscores Latin America’s building drive into bilingual, bi-country U.S.-Mexico [...]

  • Backtrace Review

    Film Review: 'Backtrace'

    “You can’t kill me! I died seven years ago!” It’s very much to the credit of Matthew Modine that he persuasively sells this melodramatic scrap of dialogue, and every other aspect of his trickily written lead character, in “Backtrace,” a better-than-average VOD-centric thriller that likely wouldn’t work nearly so well without the veteran actor’s totally [...]

  • Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    Film News Roundup: 'Lawnmower Man' Director Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Elijah” gets a director, a French fry documentary starts shooting and “Uglydolls” moves its release date forward. PROJECT LAUNCH Brett Leonard, best known for directing ”The Lawnmower Man” and “Virtuosity,” will direct the supernatural feature film “Elijah,” based on the Old Testament prophet. The project is set up at Winter [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Commercial Negotiations Set for February

    With no fanfare, SAG-AFTRA and the ad industry have set a mid-February start for negotiations for a successor deal to the union’s master contract, Variety has learned. The current three-year deal — which covers about $1 billion in annual earnings — expires on March 31. SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee of the ad industry [...]

  • SONDRA LOCKESONDRA LOCKE - 1986

    Oscar Nominee Sondra Locke Dies at 74

    Actress and director Sondra Locke, who received a supporting actress Oscar nomination in her first movie role for “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” died Nov. 3 at 74. The Los Angeles County Public Health Department confirmed her death. She died due to breast and bone cancer, according to Radar Online, which reported that she [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content