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Tom Holland is finally set to appear on Chinese movie screens again — but it will be in Sony’s video game adaptation Uncharted, not his mega-blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Columbia Pictures’ Uncharted, co-starring Mark Wahlberg and based on the popular PlayStation game series from publisher Naughty Dog, has received a March 14 release date in China. The film opened in 15 other international markets last weekend, earning $22 million. It debuts in North America on Friday.
China’s film regulators have cut back markedly on the number of U.S. titles allowed into their theatrical film market, which again comprised the world’s largest box office in 2021. Last year, just 20 revenue-sharing U.S. titles were released in Chinese cinemas, compared to an average of 30 to 40 titles during the years preceding the pandemic. The lack of a China release for the past five major Marvel movies (Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home) has been the subject of endless speculation, given how enormously lucrative the Marvel franchise has been in China.
Some analysts now believe Beijing may be trying to wean its populace off U.S. storytelling amid persistently fraught diplomatic relations with Washington. The studios got a bit of encouragement in China late Friday, when it was confirmed that Warner Bros.’ The Batman will release in the country March 18.
The movies set for release in China so far in 2022 are titles with mid- to small-size earning expectations rather than tentpoles: Disney’s Death on the Nile (Feb. 19), Woody Allen’s troubled 2018 film A Rainy Day in New York (Feb. 25) and, now, Uncharted (March 14) and The Batman (March 18).
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Venom), Uncharted was conceived as an origin story for the game series’ globe-trotting adventurer Nathan Drake, played by Holland. Nathan begins the story as a bartender before he is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Wahlberg) to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan and lost 500 years ago. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting, white-knuckle race to reach the prize before the ruthless Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs.
The screenplay was written by Rafe Lee Judkins, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. The film is produced by Charles Roven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner and Ari Arad.
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