Disney Finally Gets a Movie Approved For Chinese Theaters and It’s ‘Luca’


Hollywood has been struggling to appease China and persuade them to agree to releasing films to the large Chinese box office. Since June they’ve been rather unsuccessful at getting American films approved for theatrical release, but that just changed as Disney has gotten ‘Luca’ into an August 20 release spot.

What’s interesting is that Disney just gave ‘Luca’ away to Disney+ subscribers instead of putting it into theaters, to the ire of some Pixar employees. Now they are releasing it theatrically in China– the largest box office in the world.

This agreement comes as the Chinese theater market has taken a hit over a new COVID surge that has already closed about 30% of theaters and taken capacity down to 75% in areas that are lower-risk.

According to Deadline a “Presumed local blockbuster The Battle At Lake Changjin” has postponed it’s release that was scheduled for tomorrow and now there are openings.

This sudden acceptance of a Disney film raises some questions for me:

Are they letting these films in now because they need movies in the theaters as others are delayed?

If they are released now will they even perform very well?

Is Disney leveraging their relationship with China to try and gain some money on a film they just gave to Disney+ subscribers?  So far the film has only gotten $30 million in non-Disney+ markets.

Now Disney needs to scramble to make this work

The release date is only a week and a half away. That doesn’t give Disney that much time now that it has to market a film to China and get people interested enough to pay and see it.

However ‘Luca’ being an animated film might work to their advantage. Chinese audiences loved “Coco” and when “Soul” was released around Christmas it did fairly well there with a total of $58 million. Disney betting on ‘Luca’ isn’t a bad gamble, but unlike ‘Coco’ or ‘Soul’ they only have about ten days to create substantial buzz.

Disney’s last attempts to please China with ‘Mulan’ and ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ haven’t been too successful. Not to mention that they haven’t been able to get their blockbuster / Marvel titles into the Chinese market lately. There is currently no scheduled release for ‘Black Widow,’ ‘Disney’s Jungle Cruise’ or the upcoming ‘ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ films.

Given the box office success of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise in China, ‘The Jungle Cruise’ could potentially do very well. It pretty much is a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film.

We will have to see if this is just a filler for their own delays or if this will indicate China’s willingness to bring in the slew of Hollywood films waiting for release approval over there.

But the one that go through was ‘Luca’ of all things. I’m interested to see how this goes.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: Deadline

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