CULTURE Streaming blockbuster gets theatrical release in China


Streaming blockbuster gets theatrical release in China

By Zhang Rui |

15:17, September 09, 2021

Smash hit sci-fi action film "The Tomorrow War" has made its way into theaters in China after Amazon debuted the movie online in other markets worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Chinese poster for "The Tomorrow War." (Image courtesy of China Film Group)

Directed by Chris McKay and starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski and J.K. Simmons, the film tells the story of a mix of soldiers and civilians from the present-day sent into the future to fight an alien army.

Originally set to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, the film's theatrical release was first postponed and then canceled. Its distribution rights were later acquired by Amazon in April for around $200 million, which is the same as its reported budget, making it one of the most expensive films ever made. Amazon Studios later digitally released the movie on July 2 via Prime Video in 240 countries and regions worldwide.

But to many people's surprise, its distributors in China managed to secure its release in theaters. With China being the only market in the world to host the movie in theaters, it is precisely the kind of monster-fighting visual extravaganza favored by Chinese audiences.

"The Tomorrow War" made 52.79 million yuan ($8.16 million) over the weekend in China following its Sept. 3 opening, earning the second spot at the box office behind another U.S. sci-fi action film "Free Guy," according to the box office tracking app Beacon. The pair of Hollywood action movies were expected to generate some heat in China's lukewarm summer market.

The worldwide online statistics for the movie are much more promising, being the most-watched movie on a streaming debut, according to Nielsen's rankings. During the week of June 28 to July 4, Nielsen estimated the movie was streamed for 1.23 billion minutes of viewing, and it was among the best showings for any movie since the company began tracking streaming figures in 2020.

According to industry reports, a sequel is already in development.

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