'Dawn Treader' Sails into Chinese Cinemas in January


Third "Narnia" Film to be Shown in 3D, Unlike Earlier Installments

HONG KONG -- The next film in the Narnia franchise will released in China in 3D around Jan. 7, about a year after Twentieth Century Fox’s global hit Avatar went on to gross $207 million and remains the nation’s most successful film of all time.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which opens first in India on Dec. 10 and other markets a week later, will be distributed in China by the state-run China Film Group, the country’s sole licensed importer, Fox International’s svp for Asia Pacific Sunder Kimatrai  said Tuesday.

“What’s different about this one is that Narnia is a part of an established franchise. Both the prior films already played in China, so there’s a curiosity about the new one,” Kimatrai told The Hollywood Reporter on the opening day of the annual CineAsia distributors and exhibitors convention here.

In March 2006, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe grossed roughly $7.8 million in China for China Film and The Walt Disney Co., showing only in 2D, before 3D technology had caught on in what’s now the world’s fastest-growing movie market. 

In June 2008, the next Narnia installment, subtitled Prince Caspian, grossed $12.5 million, again only in 2D and again from Disney.

Does Fox hope that Dawn Treader in 3D will repeat the success of Avatar, which was released on the same day in China as it was in the West?  “One can only hope,” Kimatrai quipped about the latest in the series of films based on the imaginative children’s books by the late English author C.S. Lewis.

Avatar helped to increase Chinese theater chains’ appetite for big-budget fantasy 3D pictures from Hollywood -- more and more of which are showing up as “quota films” under the annual cap of 20 imports China allows to give back to copyright holders a share of the box office gross. Regardless of genre, most of those revenue-sharing films come from Hollywood’s big studios.

China now has about 6,000 screens, about 56% of them 3D capable, data from industry web site DCinema Today shows. Gross box office, up more than 80% in the first six months of 2010, is expected to shatter the 2009 record of $909 million.

For spring 2011, Fox also has submitted Gulliver’s Travels, starring comedian Jack Black, hoping for a mid-February, Chinese New Year release from the censors’ board at the Film Bureau of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Fox is hoping to get director Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours into China, too, hoping Tuesday night’s regional Asian screening for visitors from there catch the first regional screening at CineAsia on Tuesday night.

CineAsia runs from Dec. 7-9 at the Hong Kong Trade and Convention Center and is owned by Prometheus Global Media, owner of The Hollywood Reporter.