Now, on the one hand, this is certainly great news for Disney. The studio’s biggest franchise gets to return to one of the largest moviegoing nations in the world, a place where they’ve made a great deal of money in the past. Who knows how much money was left on the table as “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Eternals,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” all had to make due without the Middle Kingdom.
That having been said, China has been increasingly tough to crack for Hollywood. Regulators in the country have been far more strict with Hollywood films, instead choosing to prioritize home-grown releases, such as “The Battle at Lake Changjin.” As a result, fewer North American movies are getting screen time in the country and, even when they do, the results leave much to be desired. “The Batman,” for example, made just $25.3 million of its $770 million in China. Then again, “Avatar: The Way of Water” has already made $220 million in the country. Still, there’s no guarantee that “Wakanda Forever” or director Peyton Reed’s “Quantumania” will score big numbers there these days.
Even when things are going well, studios only see around 25% of the money from ticket sales in China, due to international taxes and other fees. All of this to say, China can’t be depended on anymore for big Hollywood movies. As I’ve argued before, the math needs to check out without Chinese audiences factored in. Fortunately, Marvel has largely been doing just fine as of late, so this can probably be viewed as more icing on already well-iced cakes, so to speak.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” hits theaters on February 17.