Awkwafina’s “The Farewell,” directed by Beijing-born Lulu Wang, is now scheduled to hit Chinese theaters Jan. 10, nearly two months after its originally announced release date and six months after its U.S. release.
The movie was initially set to appear in Chinese cinemas Nov. 22 but was pulled just two days before, supposedly in the hopes of earning a better slot that wouldn’t put it directly up against “Frozen 2.” It remains to be seen whether any cuts were made by Chinese censors, but at the moment, the film’s listed running time in China remains the same as in the U.S.
“The Farewell’s” monthlong theatrical run in China will now fall between the Golden Globes on Jan. 5 and the Oscars on Feb. 9. The movie has been nominated for best foreign-language film at the Globes, and Awkwafina is in the running for best actress.
Although “The Farewell” was celebrated in the U.S. for its Asian American representation, a number of Chinese distributors initially passed on the title, feeling that its American-ness wouldn’t resonate with mainland Chinese audiences. Maoyan is now distributing and calls the film a U.S.-China co-production.
Besides Awkwafina, “The Farewell” stars Tzi Ma, Diana Lin and Zhao Shuzhen. Though Awkwafina has blown up as a star in the U.S., she remains little known in China, where “Crazy Rich Asians” failed to hit its mark. The romantic comedy made a paltry $1.65 million (RMB11.4 million) in the world’s second-largest film market.
The sudden postponement of “The Farewell’s” release in November was one of a slew of last-minute cancellations and changes to this year’s Chinese release calendar. Most of those decisions have come with no explanation, although heightened government censorship is likely the cause in many cases.