China blocked all four of Disney’s Marvel movies from theatrical release in 2021.
According to Axios, China blocked Marvel films because of comments made by filmmakers, directors or actors in the films. It’s unclear which individuals and comments set China off.
Disney had aggressively pushed the CCP to allow Marvel films in Chinese theaters. China is a priority for most top U.S. filmmakers, who often deliberately write scripts to include China and Chinese characters to capitalize on the lucrative Chinese box office.
“Marvel films are typically very lucrative there, but the political aspects in blocking those films took precedence for the Chinese government over the positive box office economic impact they likely would have had,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice Pro., adds.
China’s decision suggests that the CCP could squeeze out U.S. film giants in favor of domestic films that push propaganda.
Aynne Kokas, assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, told Axios that China’s leaders have set a goal for China to become a “strong film power” by 2035.
The key metric to watch is streaming. With the advent of streaming services, U.S. studios are less dependent on box office revenue. However, streaming king Netflix is not available in China, citing the country’s “regulatory environment.”
“It’s a real turning away from the global entertainment industry,” says Rebecca Davis, China bureau chief for Variety.
Of course, the real losers are the Chinese citizens who can no longer enjoy Marvel films in theaters.