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‘Avatar 2’ gets a ‘massive’ release in China as Hollywood ties remain shaky: analyst

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Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” (DIS) has been greenlit for release in China.

“It’s huge — there’s really no way to overdo it,” Sean Robbins, principal analyst at Box Office Pro, told Yahoo Finance.

The original “Avatar”, released in 2009, relied heavily on overseas markets as it grossed $2.74 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time. In total, more than $200 million has come from mainland China.

“That market has since evolved,” Robbins said. “We have also seen several re-releases of that original film over the years generate significant revenue in China. I really hope it will add a significant amount to ‘Way of Water’.”

The sequel’s reported production budget of over $250 million, which director James Cameron noted was “the worst business case in motion picture history”, would be the third or fourth highest-grossing film behind only Breakeven.

An increased lockdown remains a risk amid Beijing’s zero-covid policy. That, coupled with a lack of Hollywood-approved films, has taken a heavy toll on China’s theater ecosystem, with the country’s box office dropping 35% compared to the same point in 2021, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway cited by variety.

Robbins said: “It addresses the nebulous aspect of anticipating what is going to happen in China – be it at the box office, related to the government or to a pandemic, there are too many factors at play here. “

The box office welcomes the re-release of Disney’s ‘Avatar’ (Courtesy: 20th Century Studios)

A Hollywood… without China?

The relationship between Hollywood and China peaked between 2012 and 2016, but around 2018, the Chinese market started to turn its back on the US. At that time, the regulation of the country’s film management was entrusted to the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party.

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Last year, “Fast and Furious” star John Cena came under scrutiny after calling Taiwan a country – in Mandarin – from China, underscoring Hollywood’s drive for profit.

China has long been a major moneymaker for the movie industry, but the country has seen big titles in recent years, including Disney’s “Black Widow,” “Eternals,” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” increased censorship rules with With Warner Bros. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” all denied release in China.

US Blockbusters denied China’s release

Reasons for refusal can include anything the government deems inappropriate, such as depictions of homosexuality or content that the government deems violates the country’s values.

“The lessons of the past year have really underlined that studios need to start taking care of their [biggest]The most expensive tent poles may not come out in China, Robbins said.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” was rejected after producers refused to remove the Statue of Liberty from the film, while Chinese regulators blocked “Top Gun” due to the presence of the Taiwanese flag on Tom Cruise’s Captain’s back. :Maverick” was fired immediately. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s combat jacket. Beijing does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country.

Despite not being released in China, both “Spider-Man” and “Maverick” grossed $1.9 billion and $1.4 billion worldwide, respectively. Hollywood insiders called the results a major turning point in the complicated relationship between Hollywood and China.

“The fact that China is no longer as important to Hollywood is fantastic for the creative expression of these filmmakers,” Chris Fenton, filmmaker and author of the book “Feeding the Dragon,” previously told Yahoo Finance Live. told.

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“We can still make movies without integrating China’s propaganda or narrative, and if they’re relevant, if they’re universal in tone, there will be consumer markets.” [in China] Fenton said, “For future movies.”

Alexandra is a senior entertainment and media reporter at Yahoo Finance. follow him on twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her [email protected]

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