Two violent fictional American films have been granted summer releases in China, and an uplifting Chinese movie has had its local release pushed back because of real-life violence.
Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” will hit theaters in the Middle Kingdom on Aug. 26, and “Cold Pursuit,” the thriller starring Liam Neeson, follows on Sept. 6. “Little Q,” a heartwarming dog tale, has had its originally scheduled release Thursday postponed to Sept. 20 because of a knife attack on its human star.
Directed, produced by and starring Eastwood, “The Mule” was released stateside Dec. 14 and went on to gross $104 million domestically and $68.8 million abroad. The crime drama tells the story of a World War II veteran who becomes a drug courier, and also stars Bradley Cooper and Laurence Fishburne. In the trailer, Eastwood says, “Family’s the most important thing” – a line that might resonate with Chinese censors and audience despite the drug-running content.
Eastwood’s last film to come out in China was 2016’s “Sully,” which grossed RMB62.1 million (about $9 million) in the mainland.
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“Cold Pursuit” stars Neeson as a snowplow operator-turned-vigilante in Colorado who wants to avenge the death of his son. The film, directed by Hans Petter Moland, is an English-language remake of Moland’s Norwegian thriller “Kraftidioten,” which was released in the U.S. under the title “In Order of Disappearance.”
The film was released in February by Lionsgate. But the studio canceled the red carpet at its New York premiere in the wake of Neeson’s comments about wanting to beat up black men after a sexual assault against a loved one.
Neeson was also in June’s “Men in Black: International,” which has grossed RMB307 million in China. Other films featuring him in starring roles have been released in China, but none has been wildly successful, including “The Commuter” last March, which grossed just RMB45.4 million, and “A Monster Calls” in 2017, which made just RMB14.5 million.
Doggie story “Little Q” stars veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, who appeared in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Cradle of Life.” Yam was stabbed onstage last Saturday, apparently by a mentally ill assailant, while at a promotional event in southern China.
He was released from a Hong Kong hospital on Wednesday, but has been unable to do promotion work for “Little Q,” which was scheduled for release Thursday.