Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” has been allowed to extend its current run in mainland Chinese cinemas beyond the 30-day theatrical window normally given to Hollywood films imported into the country.
Such decisions are in the gift of government regulators who oversee the sector and which have blocked Disney’s Marvel films in China for more than three years.
A Disney spokesperson in Asia confirmed the matter diversity It is reported to have an additional 30 days of play for “Avatar 2”. Private sources reported this information diversity That DreamWorks Animation-produced “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” has also been given an extension, though specifics were unavailable.
Such extensions are far from unprecedented and seem to be taken for granted when long term Chinese cinema operators or Chinese investors or co-producers can be seen as beneficial.
What makes the “Avatar 2” and “Puss in Boots 2” extensions unusual is that the extended runs will overlap with the Chinese New Year holiday. The ongoing feast – starting on January 21 this year – has become China’s biggest annual box office season and is usually the exclusive preserve of Chinese-made films, especially those with local franchises and family entertainment titles.
“Avatar 2” was released in China on December 16, 2022, and was originally scheduled to end its run on January 15, 2023. The extension means it will now be able to run until mid-February “Puss in Boots” is released in China on December 23, 2022.
“Avatar 2” has topped the Chinese box office every day since its release. Pulling such a winner off the screens will hurt the country’s already battered exhibition sector. The Chinese box office in 2022 was down 36% from 2021 and near $4.4 billion, enduring the worst year in more than a decade.
According to consultancy Artisan Gateway, “Avatar 2” reached a cumulative total of nearly $190 million in China through Sunday night. Local ticket agencies now estimate its running total has exceeded $196 million.
“Puss in Boots” has been a more mediocre performer. According to Artisan Gateway it has grossed just over $2.9 million after more than two weeks of release.
Starting January 22, the two US titles will have to compete with several new Chinese releases.
The hot favorite is Fran Guo’s “The Wandering Earth 2,” a sequel to the book-to-film sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth,” which grossed $700 million in 2019.
Other Chinese films lined up for a portion of the Lunar New Year rush are: “Full River Red,” a historical drama by director Zhang Yimou, starring Jackson Yee; “Hidden Blade,” a patriotic WWII action drama starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Wang Yibo; the sports drama “China’s Ping Pong,” directed by and starring Deng Chao; and “Boney Bears: Guardian Code,” the latest installment in the long-running Bonnie Bears family animation franchise.
Smaller titles reported to be challenging for Lunar New Year screen time include fantasy-comedy “Five Hundred Miles” and animated fantasy “Deep Sea.”