×

Overseas Releases of Chinese Films to be Cancelled Following Virus Outbreak

The overseas release of Chinese films in the next weeks is certain to be affected by the cancellation of theatrical outings in mainland China as a response to the rampant spread of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, movie companies in China announced they would not go ahead with the release of seven major films at Chinese New Year, normally the busiest period in the cinema calendar.

Chinese regulations prevent a Chinese-produced film from being released outside mainland China in advance of a release within the country. There can be exceptions, such as those for major film festivals, but these need government approval.

Chinese rights holders also like to avoid international releases preceding their film’s outings in China. The chance of pirated recordings from the smaller overseas markets leaking back into massively larger mainland Chinese market is too great a risk.

Cancelled mainland Chinese outings will now have a domino effect on overseas releases of certain films.

Singapore distributor mm2 Entertainment announced that it has cancelled the release of “Detective Chinatown 3” and Jackie Chan-starring “Vanguard.” Other Singapore distributors such as Clover Films cancelled the release of “The Rescue,” while Encore called off the outing for animation “Jiang Ziya.”

Popular on Variety

Releases of “The Rescue” and “Detective Chinatown 3” in Malaysia were also called off by mm2. Release of “Vanguard” in Malaysia was halted by GSC.

“We called off the releases (in Singapore) simply because the titles shifted date in China, and the producers demanded, as per contract, that we do not release earlier than China,” Lim Teck, founder of Clover Films told Variety.

“In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak, we have just received the news that both movies will be put on hold until further notice,” said mm2.

Overseas distributors were informed of the Chinese mainland cancellations at 11am local time on Thursday. No new dates have been supplied.

Warner Bros. Pictures had planned on a wide specialty release of Wanda Pictures’ “Detective Chinatown 3” in North America. It announced outings in more than 150 theaters and limited IMAX engagements in major cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Toronto and Vancouver. Warner has not yet announced any cancellation plans.

CMC Pictures had planned on a similarly large North American outing for $90 million-budget action adventure film “The Rescue,” starting on Jan. 24. It had booked theaters in 67 U.S. cities and 18 Canadian markets.

“Due to the current public health situation in China, CMC Pictures has made the decision to postpone the theatrical release of ‘The Rescue’ — both in China and internationally — until further notice. The health and safety of the public is of the utmost importance to us and we want to do our part in reducing any potential exposure during such a critical period,” said CMC in a statement emailed to Variety. 

“Leap,” the highly anticipated sports action film by Peter Chan about the Chinese women’s volleyball team, and comedy franchise film “Lost in Russia” were not licensed to local distributors in Southeast Asia.

The cancellation of the mainland films could work to the advantage of other Chinese New Year titles. The Singapore releases of Hong Kong-made “Enter The Far Dragon,” “All’s Well 2020” and “The Grand Grandmaster” are all releasing as normal. Mm2 said that it will bring forward the release of “A Moment of Happiness,” a Malaysian-made, Chinese-language comedy.

More Film

  • Utopia Hires Danielle DiGiacomo as Head

    Utopia Hires Danielle DiGiacomo as Head of Content (EXCLUSIVE)

    Film executive Danielle DiGiacomo is joining the upstart distribution company Utopia as head of content, Variety has learned. In this new role, she’ll be acquiring movies and developing release strategies for the boutique label, which last year released titles such as the drama “Mickey and the Bear” and Errol Morris’ political documentary series “American Dharma.” [...]

  • Persian Lessons Russian Cinema

    Berlin: 'Persian Lessons' Sold to Cohen Media Group for North America

    Cohen Media Group has acquired North American rights to the Holocaust drama “Persian Lessons,” following its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, where it has become a buzz title. The film was produced after the lead producers met at a Variety “10 Producers to Watch” event in Cannes in 2018, and decided to work [...]

  • SZA, Justin Timberlake Drop ‘The Other

    SZA and Justin Timberlake Drop First Song From 'Trolls World Tour'

    SZA and Justin Timberlake released “The Other Side,” the first song from the upcoming “Trolls World Tour” soundtrack. Of course, Timberlake’s Grammy-winning 2016 hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from the first “Trolls” film, was one of the most massive hits in a career filled with them, and like that song, this one involves co-writer Max [...]

  • German-french Producer Margaret Menegoz Receives the

    Cesar Academy Names Margaret Menegoz Interim President

    Producer and outgoing board of governors member Margaret Ménégoz has taken over as interim president of the Cesar Academy. The new president is to oversee a transition period until a new board is announced in April. Ménégoz, who has produced films for Michael Haneke, Eric Rohmer and Andrzej Wajda under her Les Films du Losange [...]

  • Berlin Alexanderplatz

    'Berlin Alexanderplatz': Film Review

    The twin pillars of Alfred Döblin’s epochal 480-page 1929 German-language novel and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s deeply influential 15-hour miniseries, first broadcast in 1980, together create an overarching shadow from which Burhan Qurbani’s relatively svelte three-hour contemporary reworking of “Berlin Alexanderplatz” struggles to escape. Although promising a deep-cut dash of contemporary topicality by reimagining the main [...]

  • There is No Evil

    Berlin: Banned Director Mohammad Rasoulof's 'There is No Evil' Lures Buyers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mohammad Rasoulof’s “There is No Evil,” which is having its world premiere at the Berlinale on Feb. 28, has been sold by Films Boutique to major distributors across Europe. The sixth feature from Rasoulof, the critically acclaimed Iranian auteur facing censorship challenges back home, “There is No Evil” made a big impression on buyers and [...]

  • Bob Iger and Bob Chapek Disney

    How Disney Veteran Bob Chapek Emerged From Dark-Horse Status to Take CEO Job

    When the final act came in the corporate succession drama that has captivated Hollywood for years, it turned out that Bob Chapek was the logical candidate who was hiding in plain sight the whole time. The news that Chapek would succeed Bob Iger as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. hit the entertainment industry like [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content