A trio of Hollywood titles previously approved for China announced Thursday that they are set to hit the big screen now that cinemas are kicking back into gear.
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” in 3D and 4K restorations, will screen in China starting Aug. 14 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise. “We invite you to re-experience the infinite magic of Hogwarts and bizarre and motley Wizarding World,” Warner Brothers said in a Chinese statement.
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That film, and the seven others in the series, anchor an eclectic line-up at the Shanghai Int. Film Festival, where they are set to screen over the course of the event’s July 25 to Aug. 2 run, giving audiences an early taste of the magic.
“Harry Potter” will go up against the Will Smith-starring “Bad Boys For Life,” which will also premiere Aug. 14. The film announced it would release in China back in January, but its hopes of box office glory were dashed when cinemas shuttered at the end of the month. It released in the U.S. on Jan. 17, and has grossed $419 million so far worldwide, with $204 million of that coming from the States.
So far, the only other film of note scheduled to debut that weekend is a local rom-com called “A Road to Spring.”
Meanwhile, Sam Mendes’ Oscar-winning war epic “1917” will hit Chinese cinemas on Aug. 7, and is currently the only film scheduled to debut that weekend. The movie was previously set to screen on Feb. 21, but had its release date kicked back due to COVID-19.
Earlier this week, “Sonic the Hedgehog” set a July 31 date for its China debut. The Paramount Pictures title is another film first scheduled for February in China that was pushed. It will open alongside a re-release of Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” which grossed $84 million back in 2015 in the country.
A portion of China’s cinemas began to reopen across the country in regions deemed at “low risk” for the coronavirus on Monday. Some 884 cinemas in 175 cities are now back in business, Chinese reports say. Authorities on Tuesday said that Beijing’s cinemas may reopen from this Friday, giving them just days to scramble to prepare.
Going into the weekend, the top film at the box office in China is currently local crime thriller “Sheep Without a Shepherd,” now in its third run in cinemas since its December premiere. Takings, however, have been minimal, as the film has earned just $432,000 nationwide as of Thursday evening local time.
In second place has been Coco, which has earned $148,000 since Monday, followed by local arthouse film “A First Farewell” — one of the few new releases available at the moment — with $61,000 and Will Smith-starring “The Pursuit of Happyness” with $49,000.
A dozen titles are set to release this Friday. Most notably, “Dolittle” and “Bloodshot” will greet Chinese audiences for the first time. Its competitors are all re-releases, including foreign films “Capernaum,” “Zootopia,” and “A Dog’s Journey,” as well as local blockbusters “Operation Red Sea” and “Operation Mekong” from helmer Dante Lam, Tsui Hark’s “The Taking of Tiger Mountain,” and Jeffrey Lau’s “A Chinese Odyssey Part One and Two,” starring Stephen Chow.
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