The studio had put out a trailer last fall that touted a Feb. 14 release date for the new X-Men installment, but said a day later that the premiere had been pushed back in order to nab the critical China market. The country would have been in the midst of celebrations for Chinese New Year in February, a key movie-going holiday that is also an unofficial blackout period during which authorities do not allow the import of foreign titles, in order to support domestic ones.
“We felt like that June date was a bigger opportunity for us globally,” writer-director-producer Simon Kinberg said at the time. “More screens, more IMAX screens, a better chance to play in China where these movies have a massive following.”
There is a chance, however, that the film may overlap at the China box office with “Avengers: Endgame,” which has dominated the market, with an astonishing 99% market share, since its release in the Middle Kingdom on Wednesday. Films in China are generally only given a month in theaters, but the more successful ones are often granted an extra month, which could see “Endgame” in theaters through late June.
“Dark Phoenix” is the 12th film in the X-Men series, which also includes films starring Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. It is the direct sequel to 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which made $121 million in China.
Fox’s “Once Upon a Deadpool,” a PG-13 version of the R-rated “Deadpool 2,” was given an unexpected China release in late January, nearly eight months after the latter’s U.S. debut, even though many expected the franchise to be too violent and vulgar for Chinese censors. It made $42.4 million (RMB286 million) in the country.