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Basketball Comedy ‘Uncle Drew’ Nets China Theatrical Release

American sports comedy, “Uncle Drew” has netted itself a theatrical release in mainland China, where basketball is a major sport. It will be released in Chinese cinemas on Jan. 11, 2019.

Starring hoops legend Kyrie Irving in the title role, the film delivers a story about a team of old-time ball players who pull together for one last tournament. It also stars Chris Webber, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller and Nate Robinson.

Uncle Drew” was originally a digital episodic series, conceived by Pepsi. The movie version, directed by Charles Stone, was produced by Temple Hill in association with PepsiCo’s Creators League Studios. Released by Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment in North America in June, the film racked up $42.5 million stateside.

The Middle Kingdom outing is likely to significantly swell the film’s score outside North America, which to date stands at a lowly $2.4 million, with fully a third of that coming from Chinese-administered Hong Kong.

January is often a slow month at the Chinese box office, representing a lull between the busy Christmas period and the crowded Chinese New Year holidays (which in 2019 fall entirely in February). But surprises on the upside are not unknown. The release of “Uncle Drew” in China will come just a week after outings of “Transformers” spinoff “Bumblebee and boxing drama “Creed II.” Both arrive in Chinese theaters on Jan. 4.

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