Noah Baumbach's 'Marriage Story' Headed for Theatrical Release in China

Courtesy of TIFF
'Marriage Story'

Since Netflix is blocked from operating in China, the streamer is offloading the local big-screen rights to Beijing-based distributor Road Pictures.

Noah Baumbach's awards season favorite Marriage Story is headed to the Chinese multiplex.

The Netflix-produced drama only received a brief Oscars-qualifying theatrical run in North America, capping out at around 160 theaters. But since Netflix is blocked by regulators from operating its service within China, the company has opted to sell the film's big-screen rights to a local distributor.

Following several months of discussions, Beijing-based speciality distributor Road Pictures has closed a deal for the theatrical rights to Marriage Story. A representative for Road Pictures told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday that the company is aiming for a major nationwide rollout sometime shortly after the 92nd Academy Awards in February. State-backed distributor China Film Group will import and release the title, while Road Pictures will handle all marketing and support — the typical arrangement in China.

After receiving a leading six nominations at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Marriage Story is considered a strong Oscars frontrunner in several categories.

Written, directed and produced by Baumbach, Marriage Story follows stage director Charlie (Adam Driver) and actress Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) as they struggle through a grueling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them both personally and creatively. Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty and Merritt Wever round out the cast.

Envisioning itself as something like the Chinese answer to A24, Road Pictures has built an impressive track record in recent years of forging a market for international prestige titles. In July 2018, the company marketed and released Japan's Cannes Palme d'Or winner Shoplifters to the tune of $14.1 million (compared with $3.3 million in North America). The company's next release, Lebanese art house drama Capernaum, then made Chinese box office history in April 2019, earning more than $50 million (compared with $1.6 million in North America).

Road says it is hoping for similarly big things from Baumbach's delicate divorce drama. "Marriage Story's subtle and realistic — and sometimes humorous, or life-affirming — portrayal of love, marriage and family in all shapes and forms is sure to evoke strong emotional resonance in the Chinese audience," the company said in a statement.