'Despicable Me 2' to Finally Open in China Next Month

Universal Pictures
"Despicable Me 2"

Universal and Illumination Entertainment's hit animated film will be released just weeks after NBCUniversal announced it was opening a Beijing office.

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 will finally hit Chinese theaters on Jan. 10, according to exhibitors in Beijing, after renewed approaches to allow the animated feature to screen in the world's second-biggest film market.

The news comes just weeks after NBCUniversal announced that it was establishing a Beijing office, and this is no coincidence, industry members say.

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The sequel is already the highest-grossing animated film of the year worldwide and is on track to be Universal's most profitable film ever, so a big Chinese opening for the Steve Carrell-starrer certainly won't hurt its global prospects.

While many will have already seen the movie on pirate DVD or download, 3D family features like Despicable Me 2 still attract theatergoers.

The first installment in the franchise, released in 2010, was not released in mainland China, and the reason the second almost wasn't released was reportedly due to difficulties with the local agent.

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The Film Bureau denied that it had blocked the sequel or that there had been quota reasons for not approving the movie, insisting the film had never been submitted for censorship approval.

It also denied what it called "absurd rumors" saying that a reason the release was halted in China was because the movie's Minion characters looked like former Chinese president Jiang Zemin.