‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ has third-largest global opening despite not having a release date in the world’s largest film market
Spider-Man: No Way Home netted $587.2 million worldwide in its debut weekend, making it the most successful movie opening since the beginning of the pandemic and the third-biggest global box office opening of all time.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is the third film in a trio of Spider-Man movies produced as part of a unique intra-studio agreement between the Japanese conglomerate Sony and the Disney-owned Marvel Studios. But the movie still does not have a release date set in China, and it is unclear whether it will be released at all in what has been the world’s largest box office for the past two years.
Some film critics in China believed that the film’s release might be simply delayed by a few weeks, according to Radii China. In November, Sony also released a promotional poster for the film in China, raising hopes that the studio would be able to secure its release. Chinese film regulators have not commented on the potential release of the film. Sony and Marvel Studios did not immediately respond to Fortune’s inquiries about a potential release date in China.
In China, social media users and state media outlets have speculated that the film has not been released due to China’s recent issues with Marvel Studios.
It wouldn’t be the first time. This year, Marvel movies Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Black Widow were not released in China. But with those movies, there was at least some indication why Chinese film authorities might have blocked their release.
State media outlets had criticized Shang-Chi for the racist origins of one of the film’s characters, even as the movie was celebrated in the U.S. as a breakthrough for Asian American representation in Hollywood. Eternals director Chloé Zhao, meanwhile, was censored and criticized in China for critical comments she made about growing up in the country. State media outlet the Global Times speculated that Black Widow’s Chinese release may have been put aside due to competition with Chinese patriotic films.
Yet the Spider-Man franchise does not appear to be plagued by similar concerns. The first two movies in the most recent Spider-Man trilogy—Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home—had successful box office runs in China.
Spider-Man: Far From Home, which was released in China three days before its U.S. debut, netted $199 million in Chinese box office revenues in 2019.
But Chinese audiences may be hopeful that censors are simply delaying the release, such as when Spider-Man: Homecoming was released in China two months after its U.S. opening.
Despite the delay, China became Spider-Man: Homecoming’s largest market outside the U.S., grossing $116 million in box office receipts.
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