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Warner Bros.’ superhero smackdown Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has scored a coveted day-and-date release on March 25 in mainland China, it emerged over the weekend.
China’s box office grew 48 percent last year, and the country is expected to surpass North America as the largest theatrical market in the world next year.
Delayed releases in China and other international territories are believed to erode box office, as the lag time allows pirated copies to circulate and can diminish global marketing clout. But that won’t be a problem for the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight this time around.
News of the March 25 China date for Batman v Superman began circulating in the Chinese press over the weekend. A local distributor with knowledge of the plans confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday night.
DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 recently landed a simultaneous release in China and the U.S., but that was believed to be because the film was co-produced by the studio’s Oriental DreamWorks China subsidiary and the state-backed film colossus China Film Group. Day-and-date China releases without a local production or marketing partner are rare. Kung Fu Panda 3 has made $101.7 million after nine days in release in China.
China Film Group oversees all distribution of foreign films in the booming Chinese market. The Hollywood studios lobby the body aggressively in hopes of landing desirable release windows for their biggest films. Chinese regulators are known to skew the release schedule in a way that benefits local Chinese productions. Hollywood films are often forced to come out in clusters, so that they cannibalize one another’s box office. China also blocks foreign films from release during valuable holidays periods, such as Chinese New Year, which is currently underway, when locals flock to the cinemas.
Batman v Superman is the follow-up to 2013’s Man of Steel and the second installment in the DC Extended Universe. The film stars Affleck as Batman, Cavill as Superman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Amy Adams as Lois Lane.
Man of Steel grossed $668 million, $63.4 million of which came from China.