Beijing’s film regulators are beginning to allow Hollywood titles back into the marketplace as China’s booming Lunar New Year box-office period winds down.
On Feb. 26, officially the final day of the Chinese New Year season, Warner Brothers’ live-action/animation hybrid Tom and Jerry secured a release. In 2021, the film will be the first new U.S. studio title to be launched in China. Only one week later, on March 5, Raya and the Last Dragon will get a theatrical rollout of Disney’s feature animation.
As a matter of protectionist trade practice, China’s regulators block the release of foreign films throughout the lucrative Lunar New Year stretch. As much as 10% or more of the annual ticket sales revenue of the country is generated over the holiday, two Chinese films, Detective Chinatown 3 and Hi, Mom, have already exceeded $600 million in earnings each, while the period immediately afterwards tends to be a particularly fallow stretch of earnings, as much of the moviegoing public of the country will have recently gorged on large-screen contents.
Nevertheless, China could be Tom and Jerry and Raya and the Last Dragon’s largest box-office territory. Tom and Jerry will launch in North America on both HBO Max and U.S. cinemas that are currently open on the same day. Raya and the Last Dragon will also be released in theaters and, at the same time, Disney Plus Premier Access, the one-time payment option for Disney+ to see new films for $29.99, the same service used for Mulan by the company.
Tom and Jerry, directed by Tim Story, features both human and vintage cartoon characters. Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Ken Jeong, Rob Delaney and Pallavi Sharda also star. Raya and the Last Dragon follows a fearless young girl, voiced by Kelly Marie Tran, and the last dragon, Sisu. The two films are opening simultaneously in high-resolution streaming form in other markets.