The Batman has scored a significant victory in the war between DC and Marvel’s superhero IPs: getting a theatrical release in the Chinese mainland. The darkest reimagining of DC’s iconic Dark Knight to date will hit Chinese theaters on March 18, just over two weeks after debuting in South Korea on March 2.
Released on March 4 in the U.S., The Batman is already breaking box office records and has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from audiences.
Directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson, the nearly three-hour-long movie is expected to be a box office hit in China.
More than 75,300 fans have added the film to their watch list on Douban, a database and user review platform similar to IMDb, and the related hashtag on Weibo has amassed more than 770 million views.
Jeffrey Wright and Robert Pattinson in The Batman. Image via IMDb
Such enthusiasm does not come unjustified.
Superhero fans in China have been left empty-handed over the past 12 months, as none of the last five Marvel blockbusters — Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Spider-Man: No Way Home — made it past regulators.
China has become more selective in recent years when it comes to importing Western movies as its domestic film pool grows bigger.
The Chinese government has a quota of 34 foreign movies that are allowed to be screened every year, although the percentage of Hollywood films in the import allowance has dropped over the past few years — from 47% in 2019 to 39% in 2021.
Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz in The Batman. Image via IMDb
Another reason to anticipate the box office success of The Batman in China is that the film will be released only weeks after its debut overseas. The narrow time window will presumably make it hard for Chinese fans to find pirated copies online before the official release in the country.
The movie’s production company, Warner Bros., has also announced that The Batman will not be distributed online, on HBO Max, until April 18.
Other foreign titles that secured a Chinese release in 2022 so far include Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York, Disney’s Death on the Nile, and Matrix Resurrections.
Cover image via Twitter
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