Beijing is expected to snub Hollywood’s latest superhero blockbusters, 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' and Dwayne Johnson’s 'Black Adam', as China continues to block US access to its film market, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Сhinese movie industry insiders told the outlet that the two films are believed to have little chance of winning the approval of local regulators, which would cut Disney and Warner Bros. out of millions of dollars in potential revenue.
Although Chinese regulators have not announced any decision and seldom comment on the reasons for denying a foreign film access to the nation’s market, it is believed that Marvel movies, such as the 'Black Panther' series, are subject to a “de facto ban” in the country, the outlet said.
While Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ managed to earn $629 million during its Chinese release in 2019, beginning with 2020’s ‘Black Widow’, the last half dozen Marvel titles have failed to make it on to Chinese screens at all.
Some have speculated that the ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ and ‘Eternals’ movies were banned due to actors on those projects making comments that “seemed to disparage” China, THR said. For ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, the reason was thought to be that the Statue of Liberty, a “potent symbol of American political values,” was featured too prominently.
Fans believe that censors have also taken issue with the openly gay characters in ‘Black Panther 2’, ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’, and Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’.
Hollywood studios had previously cut scenes with gay characters out of their movies for the Chinese market. Disney, however, has recently decided not to remove gay content for the sake of appeasing regulators in foreign countries.
An executive at a major Chinese movie theater chain reportedly told the Hollywood Reporter that his company has outright “stopped hoping” that ‘Black Adam’ will secure a theater release in the country, as it features actor Pierce Brosnan, who was censored in China after posting a photo with the Dalai Lama – a figure seen as a dangerous separatist by Beijing.
With fewer Hollywood productions making it to Chinese cinemas, Artisan Gateway reports that ticket sales in China have dropped 35% this year compared to 2021. Nevertheless, China remains the second-largest film market in the world.