‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’ Sets China Re-Release for May

Popular on Variety

Peter Jackson’s “The Return of the King,” the third film in his classic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy,” will hit China on May 14 in remastered 4K.

The first two films of the trilogy are already in theaters, having debuted April 16 and April 23, respectively. So far, “The Fellowship of the Ring” has earned $17.3 million (RMB112 million) and “The Two Towers” has $9.28 million (RMB60.2 million) so far.

The latter premiered with a $4 million opening weekend — a weak showing by local standards that net the title only third place at the box office, behind the animation “Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet” and local holdover drama “Sister.” “Fellowship” came in fifth with sales of $1.3 million, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway.

Fans expressed frustration online that the later release date for “Return of the King” would likely make it difficult to do marathons of all three films at once, given that films typically are given a one-month theatrical run.

That authorities programmed it to run after the May 1 Labor Day holiday, however, highlights Beijing’s continued protectionist attempts to block off the most lucrative movie-going periods for local films. The upcoming April 28 weekend is set to be especially competitive with 19 new local releases, including Zhang Yimou’s new spy thriller “Impasse,” the Aaron Kwok thriller “Home Sweet Home” and long-anticipated video game adaptation “Dynasty Warriors.”

Release dates for the first two films were announced April 14 — just two days before “Fellowship” was supposed to hit theaters. The approval was so sudden that there was no time to get the digital prints to scores of cinemas across the country, leaving them without the necessary digital print on the first two opening days. Scheduled screenings had to be cancelled and tickets refunded amidst the chaos.

Presumably, the same will not happen for “The Return of the King,” which now has a comparatively luxurious 16 days to prepare its debut.