The hotly anticipated “Soul” may have decided to skip cinemas in the COVID-19-ravaged U.S. for Disney Plus, but it will screen in Chinese theaters from Christmas Day, Dec. 25. Disney currently has no plans to launch its streaming service in China, where such platforms are strictly policed by government authorities.
Inventive, family-friendly Pixar offerings have seen strong box office numbers in China in the past, notably with “Coco,” which defied the ruling Communist Party’s unofficial censorship of content featuring ghosts to become the country’s 20th highest grossing foreign film of all time, with earnings of $189 million,.
“Onward,” however, fell a bit flat when it screened in mid-August in newly reopened Chinese cinemas as they started to revive in the wake of COVID-19. Caps on ticket sales and screening numbers at the time likely didn’t help, and it grossed just $10.3 million.
“Monster Hunter,” budgeted at an estimated $60 million, will hit China on Dec. 4, three weeks before the U.S.
Loosely based on the Capcom video game series of the same name, which is popular in China, it is written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (“Resident Evil”) and stars Tony Jaa, T.I., Ron Perlman, Meagan Good and Diego Boneta.
The actioner will go up against ten other films releasing in China the same day. Although none of those are serious contenders, Anderson’s film is currently only the fourth most buzzed about film premiering that Friday on social media, behind a Chinese rom-com, a local fantasy adventure film and a Japanese Pokemon film, but ahead of the Elisabeth Moss-starring horror film “The Invisible Man.”
The North American release date for “Monster Hunter” has shifted around the calendar substantially as uncertainty persists due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was recently bumped forward four months from April 2021 to this Christmas, Dec. 25.
Sandwiched between “Soul” and “Monster Hunter” will be the China premiere of “Wonder Woman 1984” on Dec. 18, a week before it launches in North America in theaters and on streaming via HBO Max.