China has lifted the ban it imposed on Marvel movies, and has announced the release dates for the two major movies from the Marvel Universe, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania”.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” which was released last November worldwide, is set to release in China on February 7 followed by “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania”, to be released on February 17, the same day the sequel will be released in the US and UK. The release dates of the two movies were announced on Marvel’s Chinese social media profile.
Marvel’s latest releases will be the first to play in China since “Avengers: Endgame” (which grossed $632 million in China) and “Spiderman: Far From Home” (earned $198 million in China) in 2019. Marvel movies have been popular in China, with “Black Panther” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp” staggering $105 million and $121 million respectively.
The Chinese movie theaters have not just isolated themselves from Marvel titles, but only a few other Hollywood movies had a chance to come on screen in China during the pandemic era. This stiffness towards Disney films began to soften in the Middle Kingdom in 2022 with James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water”, which was permitted to open in China by China’s Film Bureau. The science-fiction film has grossed $220 million in the country till now.
There is no reason yet as to why recent Disney titles and other prominent studios have been kept away from screening in Chinese theaters. But it is most likely in conflict with the US during a period of intense tension, especially with patriotic political events such as the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party and the 20th National Congress occurring in 2021 and 2022 respectively.