The chances of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings getting a China release date may have taken a further hit. Deadline reported that Chinese social media unearthed a 2017 CBC interview where star Simu Liu mentioned his parents telling him of conditions under Communist rule and referring to China as a “third world” country where people were “dying of starvation.” They would have been referring to the darkest period of the Cultural Revolution.
This also puts Eternals‘ chances of a China release in question. Director Chloe Zhao was originally hailed as a triumphant Chinese director when her movie Nomadland won the Oscar earlier this year until the Chinese internet uncovered remarks she made in an interview from the 2000s. Since then, all mention of her name, Nomadland, and Eternals have been scrubbed from all media and social media in China. It’s possible that Disney might try to negotiate with the Chinese government to smooth things over to secure a release for Eternals.
Pundits in the US believe that Shang-Chi‘s chances of a release are now sunk. Black Widow was actually approved but remains unreleased in China. That movie will probably not be released now since the window for any box office earnings has shut by now—anyone there who would want to see it would have downloaded a pirate digital copy by now.
For months, perhaps even a year, there have been signs that China has been closing its doors to Hollywood movies due to the current state of Chinese-US relations. It’s entirely possible that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was never going to get a release in China anyway, no matter what any of its stars might have said in past interviews. Very few Hollywood movies opened in China this year. Free Guy is the only blockbuster to open there and doing well at the Chinese box office, but not “boffo,” as Variety likes to say. It has made $67 million in China so far, which is nowhere close to the hundreds of millions that Avengers: Endgame or even local SciFi blockbuster The Wandering Earth took. Now it looks like 3 of the 4 MCU movies of this year won’t be released in China, and it’s extremely difficult to make a billion dollars at the box office without China.
That said, the new James Bond movie No Time to Die and James Wan‘s new horror movie Malignant have been approved for release in China. The latter is a surprise since very few Hollywood horror movies get approved in China.