‘Ready Player One’ Sets Day and Date Release in China

Steven Spielberg’s Alibaba Pictures-backed “Ready Player One” is to get a theatrical release in China on March 30.

That is a day-and-date outing coordinated with the film’s debut in North America (March 29) and other international territories, some of which take it out from March 28.

The picture will slide into the Chinese releasing calendar after “Black Panther” on March 9, and “Tomb Raider” and “The Shape of Water” both on March 16.

As a revenue-sharing import title, the film is to be handled in China by state-backed China Film Corp. But it will be given a significant boost through its connections to Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant.

Through its Alibaba Pictures subsidiary, Alibaba bought a minority stake in Amblin Partners in late 2016. Alibaba Pictures combines film and TV investment functions with operation of China’s leading online ticketing platform Tao Piao Piao.

As online and mobile account for over 80% of ticket sales in China, that position has allowed Alibaba Pictures to become a significant marketing support platform. In its second interim financial statement, published this week, Alibaba Pictures took some of the credit for the hit performances of two of 2017’s biggest hits “Dangal” and “Duckweed.” It also claimed some of the credit for lifting another Amblin picture “A Dog’s Purpose” last year to a China theatrical score of $95 million (RMB600 million), which exceeded its $65 million box office in North America.

Spielberg is a name brand in China, but one that exceeds his box office performance in the country. Among his most recent films, “The Post,” “Bridge of Spies” and “Lincoln” were not given releases in China. “The BFG,” which was released in October 2016, earned $21 million.

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