During the pandemic, China surged to become the leading box office market, a paragon of vitality for theatrical releasing. However, the weekend of 9/17 – 9/19 produced a mere $73 million in ticket sales, the lowest gross for the Mid-Autumn festival holiday weekend in the last six years.
These results come in the face of a dramatic expansion of the number of theatres in the country, with an increase in the number of screens of more than 300% over the past seven years. Many blame the Chinese government’s policy to restrict the release of Hollywood titles, for political reasons in certain cases. For example, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and The Suicide Squad have all gone without a Chinese release this year. Hollywood films that have been granted access have performed well, such as Free Guy, which earned almost $100 million in Chinese ticket sales.
After a strong opening for Dune in other international markets, China announced this week that the Warner Bros. sci-fi hit would get a theatrical run in China as well, opening on October 22nd.
See also: ‘Free Guy’ Banks $300M+ Global, Fifth Hollywood Title To Milestone In 2021 & A Win For Original IP (Deadline) and ‘Dune’ Debuts Internationally With $36 Million (Variety)