James Cameron’s highly anticipated film ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ will be released in mainland Chinese cinemas on Dec 16 when it hits theatres globally. 20th Century Studios announced the news on Wednesday on its official Weibo account. The film is the sequel of Cameron’s blockbuster film ‘Avatar’ which had released in 2009.
‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is one of the few foreign films to get access to the Chinese market in recent months, with others including the latest film in the ‘Minions’ franchise and Sony Pictures’ ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’.
Foreign movies have long struggled to gain release dates in mainland China due to strict quotas on the number of international films allowed to screen. Several films are also blocked as the contents are deemed inappropriate by Chinese regulators.
Hollywood blockbusters recently have had a tough time getting clearance to show in China. The six latest Marvel movies did not make an appearance in China and earlier this year, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ was also denied a China release.
Increased scrutiny of Hollywood films has occurred in conjunction with a rise in China’s film studios making their own versions of the high-octane blockbusters that US studios are known for.
Chinese-made hits include the ‘Wolf Warrior’ franchise and last year’s breakout success, ‘The Battle at Changjin Lake’, have proven popular with Chinese audiences keen to see more Chinese-centric stories on the big screen.
That said, even though Chinese movie ticket sales topped US ticket sales for the first time in 2020, the movie market in the country has been hit by tight COVID-19 curbs. Cinemas across the country are frequently asked to suspend operations or cap audience numbers.
Especially as cases continue to grow, people in many cities around the country are refraining from going to cinemas.