Although not yet in its premiere, James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel, Avatar: The Way of WaterIt did what few other Hollywood films have done in recent years. A release date in China was granted.
20th Century confirmed the date on Chinese social media site Weibo, which showed the date as December 16 Avatar: The Way of Water‘s official site. It is released in the United States on the same day.
A rarity for Hollywood
While it is rare for a Hollywood film to appear in Chinese theaters these days, The way of the waterHis chances seemed good early on. Cameron himself traveled to China earlier this year to screen scenes from the upcoming film for the China Film Group, China’s film agency, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party’s Public Affairs Department and is responsible for foreign film releases and censorship. That avatar The scenes of the sequel were played in the Chinese CINITY cinema format, which was launched back in 2019.
Avatar: The Way of Water is one of only a handful of blockbuster releases to get a China release date this year. Others, including those from Marvel Studios Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Warner Bros. Discovery Black Adam, have failed to get a release date. While each apparent ban is rumored to have various reasons, Chinese authorities have made no official announcements about it, as is often the case.
China and Hollywood are out
Hollywood’s apparent lockout from China apparently began in 2020, when theaters in China and around the world were forced to close due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But while cinemas reopened around the world, China’s cinema screens remained closed to foreign films. This was partly due to the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary in 2021, which brought major cultural shifts and a focus on nationalism and domestically produced media. With Chinese Supreme Leader Xi Jinping entering his third term in office, there is speculation that Hollywood’s lockout will only get worse in the years to come.
Before the pandemic, the $9 billion Chinese market accounted for a quarter of the world box office. Because of this, Hollywood studios seemed to defer to Chinese censorship when it came to film editing or censorship — a fact that has been heavily criticized by human rights groups and other organizations. Post-pandemic, China’s treasury value has shrunk significantly and is currently valued at $3.9 billion.
Because of this and the current lockdown, major studios have largely changed their stance on appeasement of Chinese censorship. Following Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s box office receipts of nearly $2 billion and the success of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessformer Disney CEO Bob Chapek suggested that while the company would continue to submit films for release in China, the company would no longer rely as heavily on the country’s success.
Avatar: The Way of Water is scheduled to hit theaters on December 16th.