China is one of The Walt Disney Company’s most significant sources of revenue for its films. Disney has a large fanbase there, and given that the country boasts a population of over 1.4 billion, that fanbase plays a significant role in whether or not a film is booming at the box office worldwide.
Over the past few years, Disney has faced increasing difficulty in releasing its films in China. Marvel’s Eternals (2021) was never released in China due to controversial statements made by Chloé Zhao, the Chinese director of the film. China has a history of censoring the award-winning director, whose Oscar win was allegedly censored in the country due to her perceived criticism of the Chinese government.
Warner Bros. has also experienced censorship struggles with China, having to remove a few seconds of dialogue pertaining to a gay relationship in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022).
Marvel’s most recent release, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), was banned in China. Allegedly, a copy of The Epoch Times, a real-life multi-language news publication perceived as anti-Chinese Communist Party, can briefly be seen in the background of a fight scene.
However, on The Walt Disney Company’s Q2 earnings call today, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against allegations that the conflict with China would affect the success of Disney and its subsidiary film companies, Marvel and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars franchise.
“The situation there has been very fluid and very complicated, as you can probably guess from a business standpoint and a political standpoint,” Chapek said.
Correcting an investor who alleged a Disney film hadn’t been released in China since 2019, Chapek said, “Our most recent releases were Death on the Nile (2022) and Encanto (2021).”
“Dr. Strange… just crossed $500 million in a week without this market,” Chapek added, referring to China. He went on to say that whether a film releases in China or not “doesn’t really preclude our success.”
More on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Marvel fans have eagerly awaited Benedict Cumberbatch’s return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Doctor Strange, especially considering its tie-ins to the Disney+ exclusive Marvel shows What If…? (2021) and WandaVision (2022). The film released in U.S. theaters last weekend and has been a success thus far.
More on the film, directed by Sam Raimi, from Marvel:
Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”—a thrilling ride through the Multiverse with Doctor Strange, his trusted friend Wong and Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch.
The film has been described as a first for the MCU — a combination of action and horror — and is rated PG-13.
Did you know about the Disney and Marvel films banned in China? Let us know in the comments.