James Cameron’s new ‘Avatar’ movie is getting a rare release in China

The long-awaited sequel to director James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar” will be released in Chinese cinemas in mainland China on December 16, 20th Century Studios reported Wednesday.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” will be released in China on the same day as the global release, the studio said on its official Weibo account.

It will be one of the few foreign films to gain entry into the Chinese market in recent months, with others including the latest film in the “Minions” franchise and Sony Pictures’ “Where the Crawdads Sing”.

Foreign films have long struggled to get release dates in mainland China due to strict quotas on the number of international films allowed to be shown and many blocked due to content Chinese regulators deem inappropriate.

Hollywood blockbusters have recently had a particularly hard time getting permission to be shown in China. The six latest Marvel movies have failed to appear in China, and a Chinese release of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was also denied earlier this year.

Increased focus on Hollywood films has coincided with an increase in Chinese film studios making their own versions of the fast-paced blockbusters American studios are known for.

Chinese-made hits include the “Wolf Warrior” franchise and last year’s breakthrough hit, “The Battle at Changjin Lake.” have proved popular with the Chinese audience eager to see more China-focused stories on the big screen.

That said, as Chinese movie ticket sales surpassed US ticket sales for the first time in 2020, the Chinese movie market has been hit by tight Covid-19 restrictions. Movie theaters across the country are often asked to suspend operations or limit viewership.

Especially as the number of cases continues to grow, people in many cities across the country are avoiding going to the cinemas.

According to Chinese cinema data app Dengta, China’s total revenue for this year was just 28.27 billion yuan ($4 billion). It is a sharp drop from 2019’s 64.15 billion yuan or even last year’s 47.04 billion.

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