'Elysium' Scores China Release in September (Exclusive)

Brent Lang
The Wrap
'Elysium' Scores China Release in September (Exclusive)

Chinese regulators decided this week to allow "Elysium" to screen in the country, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

A spokesperson for Sony confirmed the favorable decision and said the film will be released in the People's Republic on Sept. 5.

It's a big shot in the arm for "Elysium"s' box office prospects. Last year, China surpassed Japan as the world's second largest market for movie ticket sales, contributing some $2.7 billion in overall box office.

Also read: China Film Group's IPO Could Ease Hollywood's Box-Office Headache for Good

Scoring a theatrical release in China can add tens of millions of dollars to a film's bottom line. "Iron Man 3," for example, earned more than $120 million from Chinese receipts alone.

Getting a release in the country remains difficult, however. China's censors are strict and regulators have a stated preference for films that can be shown in 3D or IMAX. There also is a strict quota which limits the number of foreign films to 34  releases year, so competition for slots is fierce.

"Elysium," with a production budget of $115 million, has made $53.2 million since hitting theaters last week. Directed by "District 9"s' Neill Blomkamp and starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, the film imagines a future where most of the world lives in squalor while the elite float above the earth in luxurious space ship.

Also read: Hollywood Movies Losing Out to Chinese Films in a Big Way

The greenlight for "Elysium" in that prime market comes just days after China Film Group, the state-owned distributor of foreign films, reached an agreement to pay U.S. studios months-worth of withheld box office revenues. The two sides had been at odds over a luxury tax China Film Group had tried to apply to studios' share of ticket sales.

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