China lifts ban on Marvel movies

Marvel announced the news on its Chinese social media accounts.

Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home were the last pair of Marvel movies to premiere in China before the pandemic. However, the Asian super power placed a blanket ban on all Marvel Cinematic Universe movies released after, starting with Black Widow. Now, after over three and a half years, the country with the second-largest box office in the world has finally lifted its ban on Marvel films.

The next installment is slated for a 2024 release.

Marvel announced this exciting news via a post on its Weibo account, where it also shared the new Chinese posters for the films. In the post, Marvel announced that its recent release Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and the forthcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will premiere in the country on February 7 and February 17, respectively.

Black Panther 2 made its theatrical debut in November but couldn't quite pull in the same numbers as its predecessor because of the ban in China.

China never explained the ban, but some speculate that it was in response to the censorable offenses committed in Marvel films, others opined that it was the result of political offenses, including criticism of China by the cast and crew members of some of Marvel’s films. Some other people pointed to the geopolitical tension between China and the United States as an explanation for the ban.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever secured a release date in Chinese theaters several months after its debut.

The country’s ban meant that several Marvel blockbusters, including Black Widow, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Eternals, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Thor: Love and Thunder, could not show in the country. Given that Marvel films had historically performed well at the Chinese box office, the ban meant the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential earnings to the company.

For example, the first Black Panther film, released in 2018, grossed $105 million while Ant-Man and its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, grossed a combined $226 million at the second-largest box office in the world. Consequently, China’s decision to lift the ban will be very welcome news to Disney’s upper echelon. While nobody can say for certain why the country reversed its stance, some reports suggest that Disney’s CEO change and a desire to boost its box office earnings played a significant role.

China's ban covered more than just MCU films. Chinese authorities have only allowed a handful of North American films to show in their theaters since the pandemic era. However, it began to ease up on its ban late last year, specifically when Disney approached its regulatory body for permission to show Avatar: The Way of Water.

Since its release, Avatar: The Way of Water has grossed $220 million at the Chinese box office, thereby proving that Chinese citizens still have an appetite for Hollywood films.

Tobi Oguntola

Tobi is an avid reader with interest in everything entertainment. He also loves the big screen as it fuels his overactive imagination. When he is not reading a fantasy, sci-fi, or thriller novel, he is listening to music, watching TV, or surfing the internet. Tobi is on Steam as tobioguntola.
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