'Despicable Me 2' Blocked from Chinese Theaters

Universal Pictures
"Despicable Me 2"

The government will not allow the Universal animated feature to be shown in the country.

BUCHEON, SOUTH KOREA – Universal Pictures’ Despicable Me 2 has been denied a release in mainland China, with commentators seeing the decision as part of the country’s attempts to dampen enthusiasm for imported animated features.

A Universal spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter the film would not be opening in the country. The previous installment to the franchise, released in 2010, also was not released there.

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Having already been released to much commercial success ($3.2 million) in Hong Kong -- which operates an independent film distribution system from the mainland -- Despicable Me 2 was one of the most strongly anticipated films on the mainland.

The latest development came as a surprise, given how the country’s media has been running regular stories about the film. On Tuesday, Beijing Youth Daily, the mouthpiece of the country’s Communist Youth League, published an article noting the film’s box office success in the U.S., and saying there are ”hopes” of the film being imported into China.

The news was first reported by TheWrap.

If mainland China’s censors stick with their decision, Despicable Me 2 will become the latest Hollywood animation feature to have fallen afoul of officials in the country.

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In June, DreamWorks Animations’ The Croods was pulled from country’s screens two weeks early, with sources telling THR that the abrupt move was partly because it was eclipsing homegrown animated films at the box office. The film concluded its run with $64.2 million.

But there is some good news for Hollywood animation fans, too: Monsters University already has been confirmed to open in mainland China on Aug. 23, according to the latest release schedule posted on the website of China Film Group’s imported-film distribution branch.

The Pixar production, which opened the Shanghai International Film Festival last month, will hit theaters the same day as the 3-D update of Jurassic Park.