Desperate times call for desperate measures?
Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge and Robert Zemeckis' Allied, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, have both secured theatrical release dates in China, as the country's film regulators appear to be scrambling to counteract a sudden slowdown in box-office growth. Allied will arrive on Chinese screens on Wednesday, Nov. 30, and Hacksaw Ridge will open on Thursday, Dec. 8.
In an ordinary year, China's release calendar for Hollywood titles would be set in stone by now, since the country runs a quota that allows the import of just 34 foreign films per year on revenue-sharing terms. But after China's box-office growth for the year slowed to just 4.7 percent by the end of October - a drastic deceleration compared to 2015's huge 48 percent growth rate - regulators began loosening up. At current count, there will be about 40 Hollywood films released in China through the quota system by the end of 2016.
China's 2016 release calendar also is bucking past precedent by letting a couple of Hollywood titles squeak into December. International films are usually blocked from the market for the full final month of the year, as China operates one of its "blackout periods," boosting local film companies by giving them an uncontested run at cinemas. Preventing full-year box-office growth from possibly dipping into the negative appears to be the bigger priority this year, however.
Other major overseas films heading to China in the weeks ahead include: Deepwater Horizon on Tuesday; Disney's Moana and Warner Bros.' Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on Nov. 25; and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Japanese anime smash hit Your Name on Dec. 2.