U.S. shark survival horror film “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” will be unleashed on China on Jan. 10. Chinese reports say that three other Golden Globe nominees with Oscar buzz – “Marriage Story,” “Little Women” and “Jojo Rabbit” – are supposed to hit the country as well, but their release dates have yet to be set and their supposed China releases are not yet noted on key online ticketing apps.
Ironically, “Marriage Story” could be getting its largest and longest theatrical release in one of the few countries in the world that bans Netflix. Its China rights were nabbed by Beijing-based distributor Road Pictures. The firm is best known for bringing Cannes titles “Shoplifters” and “Capernaum” to the Middle Kingdom, where they became unexpected box office hits, grossing $14 million and $50 million, respectively – much more than they did in the U.S.
Taika Waititi’s Nazi comedy “Jojo Rabbit” was recently the opening film at the International Film Festival and Awards Macau earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Chinese animated film “Mr. Miao” announced Monday – the day before its scheduled release – that its debut had been canceled. “Shooting stars never fall; auspicious dates fixed for an event will always come,” the film said poetically on its official social media account, saying that it was awaiting a future release date, without giving further explanation for the abrupt change.
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The film is produced by Color Room, an animation studio under Enlight Media, which earlier this year put out the Oscar long-listed animation “Ne Zha,” China’s second-highest grossing film of all time. “Mr. Miao” is a companion piece to 2017’s violent, edgy animation “Dahufa,” with both films directed by Bu Sifan. China has no rating systems, but the two movies have made film history by being the only ones to have self-assigned a PG-13 rating for their violence and mature themes.
There has been a host of such unexplained lineup changes this year, with films suddenly pulled from their planned release dates at the last minute or being thrust into theaters with just a few days’ notice. Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” for instance, was initially set to come out in late November, but was yanked two days before and rescheduled for Jan. 10.
Foreign films releasing in January will this year will see their monthlong releases butt up against the Chinese New Year holiday, which begins Jan. 25. An unofficial protectionist blackout on foreign titles is typically imposed on this peak movie-going period, which is also a time when some of the year’s biggest local blockbusters are released. This means that foreign films will likely get swamped by the bonanza of strong Chinese content as soon as the holiday begins.
Panned by critics stateside, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” is the standalone sequel to 2017’s “47 Meters Down.” Co-written and directed by Johannes Roberts, it follows four teen girls who dive into underwater ruins that turn out to be the home to a deadly shark species. It made $22.3 million domestically following its U.S. release in August and $40 million so far worldwide.