Disney and 20th Century Studios’ sci-fi action comedy Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, has locked down a China release on Aug. 27.
The last-minute official clearance gives Disney’s China teams just one week to mount a local marketing campaign for the movie. Still, it’s welcome news for the U.S. industry as a whole after the lengthy blackout on Hollywood film openings in the country and scant China earnings to date throughout 2021.
Disney and Pixar’s Luca, which opened Friday, was the first Hollywood title to hit China since Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway on June 11 (it earned $30.7 million). Luca lost the weekend badly, though, earning just $5 million and coming in second behind local action flick Raging Fire, which has been in cinemas since July 30.
The backlog of other previously released tentpoles awaiting dates in China include: Disney’s Black Widow and Jungle Cruise; and Warner Bros’ Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad and Reminiscence. Disney and Marvel’s rapidly approaching Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also still doesn’t have a date. MGM’s No Time To Die (Oct. 8 in the U.S.) and Legendary’s Dune (Oct. 22), among others, are waiting deeper down the line.
The feel-good family friendly appeal of Free Guy would seem to augur well for respectable earnings in China. Reynold’s Dead Pool 2 earned $42.4 million in the Middle Kingdom (after some cuts to its more risqué content), but the first Dead Pool never made it past the censors.
Covid-19 concerns in China could add to the headwinds caused by the limited marketing window though. Nearly 30 percent of China’s cinemas are currently closed due to recent Delta variant outbreaks.
In North America, Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy, has earned $58.8 million after two weekends. Globally, the film has brought in $111.9 million.
In the film, Reynolds plays a bank teller who discovers he is actually a non-player character in a video game. He’s determined to become the hero and save his friends from getting deleted by the game’s creator. Taika Waititi, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Joe Keery also star.