Hollywood’s losing streak in China continued in 2023, with no American movies cracking the country’s top ten list of the highest grossing titles of the year.
The pitiful results come despite Disney CEO Bob Iger’s aggressive efforts to get Beijing to approve more Hollywood titles for domestic release. Disney managed to score Chinese dates for its woke movies including The Little Mermaid, Elemental, and the latest Indiana Jones sequel — only to see them bomb with local audiences.
Other Hollywood studios also fared poorly in China, with Warner Bros.’ Barbie and Universal’s Oppenheimer both tanking.
For 2023, Chinese audiences flocked to see homegrown blockbusters, including Zhang Yimou’s historic epic Full River Red and the sci-fi sequel The Wandering Earth 2, according to a New York Times report.
The crime thriller No More Bets was also a major success, as were the mystery Lost in the Stars and the feel-good mixed-martial arts drama Never Say Never.
Hollywood’s wash-out in China is the latest sign of the country’s growing disenchantment with American blockbusters as well as the local movie industry’s continued growth.
In 2021, Hollywood’s share of China’s box office was already in free fall, collapsing to less than 10 percent as Beijing aimed to bolster its domestic movie industry while continuing to block major Hollywood releases from playing in Chinese cinemas.
China’s Communist Party has been actively rooting for Hollywood to fail.
As Breitbart News reported, the Chinese government propaganda newspaper Global Times recently predicted a “total collapse of the box office” for Hollywood in the near future as a result of its movies’ “repetitive” plots and “dated” American values.
The CCP keeps tight control on what foreign titles get released on local screens and has sharply decreased the number as hostilities between Washington, D.C. and Beijing grew in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
That number has risen slightly in the past couple of years, thanks in large part to Disney’s Iger, whose warm relations with the CCP date back decades. But the magic is no longer there. Even Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water underperformed in China, grossing less than the first Avatar.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood flops keep piling up.
Warner Bros.’ superhero sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is failing at the Chinese box office, grossing just $60 million in a few weeks of release despite heavy promotion from actor Jason Momoa, according to the Times.
The first Aquaman movie grossed $293 million China back in 2018.