China Film Quota Full for 2015, Hollywood Releases Confirmed
'Star Wars – The Force Awakens,' which opens Dec. 18 in the U.S., will have to wait until sometime in 2016 for a release in the world's second-largest film market.
After being blocked from the Chinese market during the lucrative fall holiday period, Hollywood has a busy — and brutally competitive — November coming up at the Chinese box office, the world's second-largest film market.
China's gatekeepers have packed six major Hollywood releases into November, reported Xinmin, a state news source in Shanghai. Come the peak movie-going season of December, Hollywood titles again get locked out.
Each year, China allows just 34 non-Chinese films into its booming movie market on a revenue-sharing basis, and the latest slate of coming releases shows that quota is now reached for 2015.
The most notable missing title from the list is Disney's Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens, which will have to wait well after its North American bow on December 18 for a China release sometime in 2016 (IMdB lists January 29 as the films China release date, but Disney has declined to comment).
The remaining Hollywood releases in China for 2015 are:
Pan - Thursday, October 22
Everest - Tuesday, November 3
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials - Wednesday, November 4
Peanuts - Friday, November 6
Spectre - Friday, November 13
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - Friday, November 20
The Martian - Wednesday, November 25
The SpongeBob Movie: SpongeBob Out of Water - Tuesday, December 1
As has been all too evident in the past, China's film scheduling is always subject to change. But it appears the regulators' usual strategy of scheduling high-profile Hollywood titles head-to-head to diminish foreign dominance on home turf, while giving local films the best release windows, remains fully in effect for the remainder of the year.
Among the upcoming Hollywood bows, Warner Bros.' Pan needs big returns in China most, after a disastrous $15.3 million North American debut. The big-budget flop could lose as much as $150 million unless it makes a major turnaround in foreign territories.
The Hunger Games: Mockingly - Part 2 was undoubtedly the lucky winner of the Chinese film release sweepstakes, having scored a rare day-and-day debut. Opening Nov. 20 in the U.S., China and Japan — the world's three largest film markets — the Lionsgate film should also get a box-office boost as the first installment in the young-adult franchise to screen in 3D, which remains the format of choice and a key box office driver in China.
China watchers and box-office wonks will also be paying close attention to The Martian's China bow on Nov. 25 to see whether the film's Chinese story elements — which Stephen Colbert recently made light of — resonate with the Chinese masses.