International box office numbers can be huge, but the one market that can have the biggest impact is China. Films like Warcraft and Pacific Rim can bomb in America but find huge success in China and earn enough box office revenue to give studios the confidence to greenlight a sequel. With Paul Feig‘s Ghostbusters starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon hitting American theaters this weekend, it only makes sense that China also gets a piece of that pie.
However, there is word that the film might not even make it there, ultimately hurting its worldwide box office gross. More on the story below.
There are three different reports floating around centering on the news. The Hollywood Reporter straight up says Ghostbusters has been denied release in China. Part of the reasoning according to their report is that China bans movies involving ghosts, promoting cults or superstition. Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was also banned in 2006. Sony’s marketing even took the word ghost out of the reboot’s Chinese title. Sony’s working title for the reboot in China translates to “Super Power Dare Die Team,” while the 1984 title translated to “Ghost Catcher Dare Die Team.”
Changing the title might not be enough to sway China’s decision, though. A Chinese executive says of the reboot “it’s not really that attractive to Chinese audiences” because most of them haven’t seen the first two films. So it’s not as though Chinese audiences will not understand the content; Feig’s Ghostbusters is more of a reboot than a sequel to the original two films.
Variety and Deadline, however, say that Sony is bracing for rejection and not completely banned already like THR says. While the film hasn’t been screened in China yet, Variety believes that it will likely be rejected due to censorship. Here in the U.S., the film is going through its own set of problems. The “Ghostbros” movement is intent on seeing the film bomb, despite the mixed to positive reviews it is currently getting. Deadline says Ghostbusters will be screened in China next week, and then we will know whether or not the film will be released there. They add that the country traditionally doesn’t play horror films.
Again, the reason why this is important is because China is the number two market in the box office. Seeing how Pacific Rim 2 is happening, and Warcraft 2 could happen, China’s market is really important for a tentpole film to get a sequel. Without them, there’s a chance that there might not be a Ghostbusters sequel.
[Source: THR | Variety | Deadline]