Source: 'Gravity' Scores Nov. 20 China Release Date

12:34 AM PST 10/16/2013 by Clifford Coonan
"Gravity"

Approval in the world's second-biggest film market should give the space epic a major overseas boost.

Alfonso Cuaron's space epic Gravity will get a much-coveted screening in China, the world's second-biggest market by box office, on Nov. 20, an industry source in China has told The Hollywood Reporter.

The news marks a big boost for Gravity, which features Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and has already notched up stellar box-office earnings of $123.4 million worldwide.

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It had been unclear if the movie would get a Chinese release because the quota of 34 movies for the year is nearly full. Also, films celebrating U.S. achievements in space might have been viewed as American propaganda in China, which is currently building its own space program.

However, it is understood that the fact that the movie is broadly sympathetic to China -- Bullock's character finds refuge in a Chinese ship, and there is recognition of China's technological prowess throughout -- helped secure it vital Film Bureau approval. THR's industry source said the release date came in a note from the distributor, China Film Distribution.

The long delay between its U.S. release and its China release does mean that many potential viewers will already have seen pirated versions of the movie, either on DVD or as downloads.

However, the fact the space drama is a strong 3D performer should ensure a robust box-office return in China, where 3D and enhanced formats have driven the country's box-office bonanza -- of the 13,118 screens in China at the end of last year, 72 percent were 3D screens.

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The movie should go down well in China, which is enthusiastic about anything to do with interstellar travel, as the country's own space program has been promoted heavily in the state press.

Hollywood remains increasingly keen to get a slice of the booming Chinese market, which was worth some $2.75 billion last year and is expected to match U.S. box-office receipts by 2018 -- and double them by 2023.

The biggest foreign earner to date is Avatar, which took $220 million in 2010, while other big overseas hits include the third installment of the Transformers franchise, Dark of the Moon, which grossed $165 million in China in 2011 out of $1.1 billion worldwide.

China first launched a man into space in 2003, followed by a two-man mission in 2005 and a three-man trip in 2008, which featured the country’s first space walk, making it the third nation after Russia and the United States to achieve manned space travel independently.

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