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Warner Bros. Discovery’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods has locked down a release date in China, sources with knowledge of the decision tell The Hollywood Reporter. The DC superhero sequel will launch in the country March 17, day-and-date with North America. The official announcement from regulators is expected soon.
Shazam!’s permission to launch continues China’s recent reopening to Hollywood imports, following Beijing’s decision last month to lift its two-year ban on Marvel film releases. Disney’s Black Panther 2 was given the green light to unfurl in China on Feb. 7, followed by Ant-Man 3 on Feb. 17. Warners’ last DC superhero title, Black Adam (2022), never opened in China, despite the huge popularity there of star Dwayne Johnson.
The first Shazam! film, featuring Zachary Levi as the title character, earned $43.8 million of its $366 million worldwide total in China in 2019.
The sequel follows Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids, who are still figuring out how to balance being teenagers with their superhero alter egos. When the Daughters of Atlas, a vengeful trio of ancient gods, arrive on Earth, the kids are thrust into a battle for their superpowers, their lives and the fate of their world, according to Warner Bros. Discovery. Shazam! 2 stars franchise newcomers Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler, who take on the roles of goddesses Hespera, Calypso and Antaeus, respectively.
China’s box office has started to deliver some of the blockbuster earnings it was known for prior to the pandemic. James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water was the first big Hollywood tentpole to launch in the country in months when it released there late in 2022. The film has earned $243 million in China — a huge haul but somewhat less than was originally expected, due to diminished theatergoing during its first weeks of release because of the enormous COVID wave that swept the Middle Kingdom as the country exited from its COVID zero policy. During the first weeks of 2023, however, Chinese film fans cast aside their health concerns and returned to the multiplex en masse during the Lunar New Year holiday. China’s two biggest holiday releases, Zhang Yimou’s Full River Red and sci-fi sequel The Wandering Earth 2, have earned $530 million and $430 million, respectively.
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