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‘Aladdin,’ ‘Pokemon: Detective Pikachu’ Set for China Debuts

Disney’s new live-action “Aladdin” will release in China on May 24, day-and-date with North America, giving the studio a run of three films in Chinese theaters as many months.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” is also set to hit the big screen in the country on May 10. The film stars the voice of Ryan Reynolds, familiar to Marvel-mad Chinese audiences as the superhero Deadpool, whose PG-13 rated film “Once Upon a Deadpool” got a surprise China release in January and made $42.5 million.

Aladdin” is the 12th live-action remake based on a beloved animated Disney classic. It is directed by Guy Ritchie, who also co-wrote the screenplay, and stars Will Smith and Canadian newcomer Mena Massoud.

“Dumbo,” the most recent such adaptation, is currently on the very tail end of its theatrical run in China after its own day-and-date debut with the U.S. on March 29. It has been a relative flop in a country where the flying elephant is a relatively unknown character, bringing in only $21.8 million (RMB147 million). 2017’s Emma Watson-starring “Beauty and the Beast” fared better, earning $87.6 million (RMB590 million) in China. 

“Aladdin” will hit Chinese theaters exactly a month after Wednesday’s debut of Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame,” the final installment in the 22-film Marvel franchise. The three-hour-long capstone is already smashing box office records for the studio, having made ($173 million (RMB1.3 billion) in China so far after just three days in theaters.

The Chinese prospects for the tale of a genie and two star-crossed lovers remain uncertain. Only 6,000 users have indicated a desire to see “Aladdin” on the Maoyan ticketing platform so far, a fraction of the 45,000 who are anticipating 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” which is much closer to its release date. Audiences in China are relatively unaccustomed to musicals. So far, those who have marked their interest hail primarily from second-tier cities. 

Guy Ritchie’s 2017 “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” released in China to a minuscule $8.4 million box office. 

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