Two summer blockbusters have been slated for release in China: Universal’s Jurassic World Dominion on June 10 and the massive local language movie Mozart From Space (directed by the director of the Detective Chinatown series) on July 15. According to Imax CEO Rich Gelfond, this is wonderful news for the reopening of the massive market. Despite the Jurassic news, he doesn’t expect the increased scrutiny of Hollywood fare to go away very soon. Many high-profile American films have been delayed in China, with recent Marvel absences being the most notable.
Gelfond described 2021 as “a pretty interesting year” for American films in China at a media conference Q&A today. Given his company’s large involvement in that area, the executive is particularly intriguing.
“The Chinese had their own backlog of unreleased films,” he explained, “so they weren’t going to let in a lot of Marvel and other films.” There was also a “huge, failed PVOD experience, where pristine copies internationally went day-and-date.”
“People were receiving them for free from pirate sites rather than buying them on PVOD because China is a high-piracy territory.” According to the Chinese government. ‘Are we going to let these movies in when they won’t make any money in theatres?’ He added that studios appear to have landed on a 45-day theatrical window for blockbusters.
“They allowed The Batman in this year.”An ambulance from Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
Jurassic World, Mozart, and a slew of other local films have been given release dates.” However, there are “broader global difficulties between the United States and China,” which means “broader examination” of American films. Meanwhile, “studios are under pressure not to be overly accommodating since there has been blowback – [as in] ‘Are they making the film for China or for the world?'” As a result, fewer films of that kind will be permitted.”
“If there are gaps in the schedule,” says Imax China, “we fill them quite beautifully with the local language, which complements the market dynamic” — away from Hollywood and toward local language films.
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Gelfond was upbeat in the United States — as he should be today. Last night, a $30 Imax screening of Top Gun: Maverick at NYC’s AMC Lincoln Square sold out before the Tom Cruise megastar’s predicted smash launch.
Imax is also hoping to capitalize on “the Avatar effect” with the release of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water later this year.
The success of the first large-format film was enough to kickstart a substantial Imax expansion. “I’d be astonished if there wasn’t another Avatar effect.” Last month, Gelfond said that the corporation had formed an internal task force dedicated entirely to capitalizing on the Avatar release.