How the new ‘Minions’ movie scored rare approval to release in China

  • “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is set to be released in Chinese cinemas in less than two weeks, defying a recent trend of major Hollywood blockbusters failing to break into the Chinese moviegoing market.
  • The approval could potentially provide a huge boost in revenue for Universal Pictures as China is currently the world’s largest film market.
  • The China Film Administration (CFA), the agency that grants approvals for foreign films, has been rejecting more and more Hollywood films in recent years.
  • Observers have attributed the Chinese censors’ stricter screening process to the government’s efforts to purify China’s entertainment industry as well as deteriorating political relations between the U.S. and China.
  • Michael Berry, director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Fortune that the Chinese censors likely view Minions as “less of a threat, politically…as a film aimed at much younger audiences.”

A new film from Universal Pictures has secured a highly coveted release date in China, defying a recent trend of major Hollywood blockbusters failing to break into the Chinese moviegoing market. 

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is set to be released in Chinese cinemas in less than two weeks.

“Long time no see, troublemakers! Minions 2 will be released on Aug. 19. Come and meet the minions on the big screen!” the studio’s Weibo announcement read in Chinese. 

Getting a film shown in the world’s largest film market provides entertainment studios with a huge potential boost to their revenue.

In 2019, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers Endgame” earned over $629 million in Chinese theaters, almost rivaling the $858 million it earned in U.S. ticket sales.

However, the China Film Administration (CFA), the agency that grants approvals for foreign films, has been rejecting more and more Hollywood films in recent years.  

The latest casualty was Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which reportedly lost the potential for a Chinese release window due to its inclusion of LGBTQ-plus scenes.

The Chinese government had earlier announced its efforts to purify China’s entertainment industry and destroy the “fake, ugly and evil values” of celebrity worship. 

Observers have also attributed the Chinese censors’ stricter screening process to deteriorating political relations between the U.S. and China.

Experts are now saying the approval of “Minions: The Rise of Gru” might have been due to its inclusion of Chinese content, such as the celebration of the Chinese New Year and the appearance of animals from the Chinese Zodiac.

Michael Berry, director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Fortune that the Chinese censors likely view Minions as “less of a threat, politically…as a film aimed at much younger audiences.”

There are also other potential benefits of approving the latest Minions film — Chinese state-owned company Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment owns 70 percent of Universal Beijing Resort, the new Universal theme park that opened in Beijing last year.

 

Featured Image via Illumination

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