‘A Monster Calls’ Passes Censorship in China

The Monster still isn’t approved to come calling for a release date, although its subject matter has been reviewed and approved for China. 

Focus Features’ A Monster Calls has been approved for cinemas in China, according to sources familiar with the matter, but a release date is yet to be announced.

While a China release date is yet to be announced,  the film, which is called Dāng guàiwù lái qiāo mén 当怪物来敲门 or “When the Monster Knocks on the Door” in Chinese, is already starting to be marketed online, suggesting a May release.

An adaptation of the bestselling children’s book by Patrick Ness, the story follows Conor, a boy who imagines a gigantic, storytelling tree-monster as a way of coping with the illness of his mother.

The film will face an interesting marketing challenge given its subject matter if it does end up securing a May release, with Mother’s Day in China is generally celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

The film has been described as a “terminal-illness melodrama” that delivers an “emotional gut-punch” and is a “tough emotional journey.”

Helmed by J.A. Bayona (director of The Orphanage and The Impossible), the film stars Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, and newcomer Lewis MacDougall.

While A Monster Calls only saw a limited release in the U.S., it did remarkably well in foreign markets. The film pulled in US$3.74 million at US theaters for the studio, but went on to make over $39.6 million worldwide.

The surreal fantasy has been a critical success and currently sits on a Rotten Tomatoes score of 87 percent. Early reviews in the local Chinese press have been effusive in their praise.