China Sets Release Dates for 'Aladdin,' 'Detective Pikachu,' 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' and 'Shaft'

Disney’s live-action adaptation Aladdin-Publicity Still 3-H 2019
Courtesy of Disney

Hollywood's early summer schedule for the world's second-biggest film market is beginning to come into focus.

Trump's trade war with China may be chugging along with no immediate exit ramp in sight, but Beijing is still welcoming Hollywood product into its multiplexes at regular volumes.

Several of the summer movie season's biggest U.S. tentpoles received China release dates from Beijing film regulators this week.

Legendary Entertainment's live-action Pokemon: Detective Pikachu will be first up, opening in China on May 10, day-and-date with North America. The film, starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular animated character, can be expected to get a strong local marketing push from Legendary's owner, Dalian Wanda Group, which also owns China's largest cinema chain. Thanks both to Wanda's support and Legendary's tendency towards effects-heavy tentpoles, the studio's films have consistently performed well in China, even when they have faltered elsewhere.

Disney's live-action Aladdin, starring Will Smith as the blue genie, will be next up, opening in China on May 24, also day-and-date with the U.S. Disney will be looking for Aladdin to rebuild momentum for the live-action remakes of its animated classics after the recent relative disappointment of Dumbo ($310 million worldwide and just $22 million in China) and Christopher Robin ($197 million worldwide and no theatrical release in China). Beauty and the Beast (2017) was a respectable hit in China ($87 million), although not nearly as popular there as it was elsewhere ($1.26 billion). 

20th Century Fox's X-Men: Dark Phoenix will debut in China on June 6, one day before its North American launch. Intended as the final installment in the core X-Men franchise, the film is a direct sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse, which earned $120.7 million in China in 2016.

Warner Bros.' Shaft sequel, starring Samuel L. Jackson, will following on June 10. The most recent Shaft (2000) film never opened in China, but Jackson is well-known to filmgoers there thanks to his appearance in Marvel superhero films, which are easily China's favorite Hollywood films.