Lights Out: China’s Summer Import Blackout about to Return

Despite imported product being the bright spot of China’s 1H2017 box office, it will be all about domestic movies for most of the summer, if new release dates are any indication.

Movies fans from China should enjoy summer blockbusters during their holidays elsewhere, as those films won’t be showing up on screens in China for weeks after their North American debuts, new reports indicate.

The undeclared moratorium on imported, especially Hollywood, films, is a China summer tradition, although poor box office performance in 2016 saw not only summer slots for foreign films, but an unofficial expansion of the annual 34-film, revenue-sharing import quota.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk has been cleared for exhibition in China, but only just received a September 1 release date, according to Variety. At least for Nolan, the waiting is over. For Spider-Man: Homecoming and Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are both approved to be shown in China, but have no release date, according to The Hollywood ReporterWar for the Planet of the Apes hasn’t even cleared censorship, which may be tricky in a market that doesn’t love talking animals to begin with.

Summer just started for many Chinese students, with school extending well into July, and set to resume in the latter part of August. During this time, Chinese films have traditionally held the upper hand — as they usually do during the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival period, when young Chinese are most able and likely to go to the movies.

The 52 imported films (including both revenue-sharing and flat-fee imports) released in the first six months of this year have accounted for 61.7% of the total box office, China Film Insider‘s Jonathan Papish reported earlier this week.