While there’s no sign of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow or Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings being approved as of yet, the moratorium on Hollywood blockbusters getting the green light for a Chinese theatrical release appears to be lifting.
Last weekend, Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy became just the second American-backed movie to hit local screens since June, where it’s performed admirably. The video game-inspired blockbuster has now topped the box office in China for two consecutive frames, and it’s days away from passing the re-release of James Cameron’s Avatar to become the third biggest foreign hit of the year behind Fast & Furious 9 and Godzilla vs. Kong.
However, even more interesting is that Amazon’s time traveling sci-fi The Tomorrow War premiered this past Friday, where it took second spot behind Free Guy with $8 million. China is set to be the only market where the Chris Pratt-led film has played in cinemas, and it’s come more than two months after it initially landed on streaming.
Chris McKay’s live-action directorial debut may have suffered mixed reviews, but when it comes to Stateside productions, Chinese audiences favor spectacle and star power above all else. A combination of Pratt’s worldwide fame and the high concept premise made The Tomorrow War both an obvious ideal candidate to wind up as one of 2021’s rare Western titles to get a theatrical rollout.