Sony Pictures has succeeded in getting theatrical slots in mainland China for two of its key movies. Both will launch in the peak month of December.
Family action-adventure film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” will be released on Dec. 21 in Chinese theaters. Before that, Screen Gems’ critically acclaimed and sleeper hit of the summer, “Searching,” will be released on Dec. 14.
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman from a screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, “Spider-Verse” introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where anyone can wear the mask. “Searching” is an old-fashioned chase thriller, told in a uniquely modern way via the technological devices we use every day to communicate.
The date for “Spider-Verse” is only one week after the film’s release in multiple international territories from Dec 12. and in North America from Dec. 14. “Searching” began its international rollout from late August.
All foreign films seeking theatrical release are subject to quota import terms and conditions that control their release and distribution. In many previous years the quota for revenue-sharing releases had been held at 34 titles per year. These two additions mean that the 2018 total will exceed 40.
That development is certain to be read in some quarters as a sign that Chinese authorities are propping up the box office by allowing more imports to compensate for a weaker crop of local movies. Other observers are likely to read the movie in political terms and suggest that China-U.S. film relations remain healthy despite the overall trade war and despite the stall in talks on renegotiating the quota since the middle of the year.
It is also unusual that Hollywood titles are allowed to release in the the mid-to-late December period. That peak season, frequently boosted by companies buying tickets for staff, is normally reserved for the release of Chinese-language titles.