China ends unofficial ban on Marvel films

BEIJING, 18 Jan 2023:

China has set the release dates for two Marvel Studios films in February, ending three years of unofficial bans of films from the company in the country.

The official Marvel account on microblogging website Weibo published posters of the films Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania last night with premiere dates.

The Ant-Man movie, considered essential in the plot and which opens the so-called “Phase 5” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be released on Feb 17 along with the rest of the world – unlike that of Black Panther, which will do so on Feb 7, four months after it appeared on international billboards in November 2022.

With this announcement, Chinese fans will once again be able to enjoy the stories of the superheroes of this franchise owned by Disney, after the premiere of Spider-Man: Far From Home in December 2019.

Authorities never officially explained why titles such as The Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder and Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings never got permission to play in Chinese theatres.

However, various causes have been pointed out for this possible veto, such as criticism from members of the cast or the production of the country’s policies, the stereotypes of the Chinese culture represented in some of the films or even some LGBT scenes within the film.

Before this situation, which coincided in time with the “zero Covid19” policy imposed in China during the pandemic and which in practice ended on Jan 8, the productions were well received by Chinese moviegoers.

The Ant-Man and Black Panther prequels grossed US$121.2 million and US$98.9 million, respectively, in Chinese’s theatres, but nothing comparable to the US$623.3 million made by Avengers: Endgame.

The news of these releases on Chinese soil comes while Avatar: The Way of Water, the film that apparently broke the ban on Hollywood blockbusters, has grossed more than US$200 million in theatres in the country.

Beijing limits the number of foreign films shown in Chinese theatres using a quota system designed to only allow 34 productions to be shown per year, exempting co-productions.