'Interstellar,' 'Penguins of Madagascar' Among Final Six Foreign Films Approved by China for 2014

Penguins of Madagascar - H 2014

Penguins of Madagascar - H 2014

All 34 quota titles for Hollywood and other foreign films have now been allocated

All 34 titles allocated to Hollywood and other foreign movies under China's revenue-share quota system have now been allocated for 2014, and they include a Chinese release for Penguins of Madagascar weeks before it opens globally.

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar also managed to gain inclusion in this year's list — there had been fears the Matthew McConaughey starrer would not make the cut this year and have to wait until 2015.

Also among the movies making up the last six places were Ice Age: The Meltdown, which is currently showing in Chinese cinemas and has taken $4.32 million in its first week.

Because of the difficulty in scheduling movies this late in the year, Oriental DreamWorks has brought forward the Chinese release of Penguins of Madagascar to the middle of November, days before it is due to premiere stateside and in other markets.

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Also in there is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 and African Safari.

The list of overseas pictures also includes non-Hollywood titles such as Korea's Roaring Currents, which will be shown in some 3,000 theaters throughout China via China's largest state-run movie distributor, China Film Group, according to South Korea's CJ E&M Corp.

Other big Hollywood titles set to open before year-end, which have already been announced, include The Maze Runner, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Hercules.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, which is only screening in 3D in China, is currently topping the box-office charts, having taken $69 million in 10 days there.

The system restricting foreign imports to 34 movies a year on a revenue-share basis is expected to open up in 2017-18 as China is required to meet the terms of an agreement on quotas with the World Trade Organization signed in 2012, valid for five years.

It's been a big year for Hollywood in China this year. With a cume of over $320 million in China, Transformers: Age of Extinction will have done much to skew the full-year box-office figures in Hollywood's favor this year, but there are some domestic heavy-hitters still to come that could push things China's way.

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They include Jiang Wen's 3D epic Gone With the Bullets — a sequel to 2010's wildly successful Let the Bullets Fly — which is due to open in early December, John Woo's romantic epic The Crossing and Tsui Hark’s 3D epic The Taking of Tiger Mountain.

China raised the number of foreign films that can be imported on a revenue-sharing basis to 34 in 2012, and industry sources have told THR that the quota will soon to be increased by 10 movies to include “prestige” art house movies and Oscar winners.

These movies don’t significantly threaten the box office of domestic films but help China sweeten relations with Hollywood, and meet its World Trade Organization obligations.

Slow growth or even stagnation in the U.S. film market made overseas expansion essential, and Europe and Japan were saturated, so U.S. companies were looking to emerging markets like China for “opportunities to explode.”

The strong growth of the Chinese market — box office is expected to reach nearly $5 billion this year with 25,000 screens — means the U.S. has to compete in the China.

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