The “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy will be re-released successively in Chinese theaters throughout April in restored 4K, Imax and 3D versions, just in time for the 20th anniversary of the first movie’s China debut.
The re-runs come just after James Cameron’s 12-year-old “Avatar” returned to Chinese screens on March 12 for an unexpected box office boost that has allowed it to regain its title as the highest-grossing film in movie history, stealing the crown back from “Avengers: Endgame.”
Despite getting the green light for its re-run mere days before its scheduled re-release, “Avatar” has dominated China’s daily box office chart throughout its latest debut, with essentially zero promotion. It had grossed $47.2 million (RMB308 million) as of Wednesday evening, making, in less than two weeks, about a quarter of the $203 million earned during its initial 2010 run.
Currently, “The Fellowship of the Ring” is scheduled to release on April 9, “The Two Towers” on April 16 and “The Return of the King” on April 23, according to ticketing apps and the latest local reports. It appears that dates for the last two films may still be subject to change, however, as they have not yet been listed on ticketing sites.
Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy debuted in China at a time when the country had far fewer screens and thus a much smaller box office. The films remain, however, beloved and well-received. “The Fellowship of the Ring” hit the country in April 2002, grossing $6.88 million, while the “The Two Towers” fared worse, with a mere $3 million. In 2004, “Return of the King” earned $10.4 million.
Although competition will be fierce over the three-day Labor Day public holiday at the end of April, the lineup of new local releases is otherwise quite slow next month, with Chinese authorities apparently hoping that “Lord of the Rings” can help fill the gap.