China x Hollywood: American movies are struggling in China

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Disney has secured a coveted Chinese theatrical release for James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar sequel, some 13 years after the initial release of the record-breaking blockbuster smash.

The incredibly-expensive second installment, Avatar: The Way of Water, will be released next month and will need the Chinese market boost — Cameron claimed the movie needs to be the ‘third or fourth highest-grossing film in history’ just to break even.

The bronze age of Hollywood

Avatar 2 will join the pretty exclusive list of 23 American-made movies that have screened in China so far this year, with government regulators cracking down on Hollywood productions as international relations continue to strain with the US. Indeed, as reported by Bloomberg, US movies have accounted for just 10% of the Chinese box office so far this year. That's dramatically down on the 32% share in 2019 and nowhere-near the ~47% back in 2011.

Top Gun: Maverick was notably shunned in China this year as Hollywood producers included a Taiwanese flag on star Tom Cruise’s bomber jacket, for example. Avatar 2, centred around the fictional jungle moon Pandora, was clearly deemed a safer bet by Chinese authorities.

However, with COVID cases soaring in the country and more lockdowns looming, whether the movie actually makes it onto every big screen in China remains to be seen.

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