Sony Pictures’ “Madame Web,” a standalone origin story in the studio’s array of “Spider-Man”-based Marvel characters, has been granted a theatrical release in mainland China. The film will open in the country on March 1 — two weeks after the title’s Valentine’s Day bow in North America and multiple international territories, including the Chinese-language markets of Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The release marks a welcome opportunity for Sony, which, along with the other traditional studios faced difficulty in securing theatrical runs in China over recent years. Two years ago, the company’s smash hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home” became one of the five highest-grossing films of all time at the global box office, but it achieved that milestone without playing in the Chinese marketplace — once a reliable boost for Hollywood releases only a decade ago.
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The March date puts “Madame Web” outside the competitive crush of new local releases that are anticipated to arrive timed to the Lunar New Year. It also gives distributors an opportunity for a five-week marketing ramp-up in China.
Sony’s Columbia Pictures unit is handling distribution in North American and most other regions. In China, revenue sharing imported titles are typically released by a state-owned distributor.
Directed by SJ Clarkson, the film stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who becomes clairvoyant and leads a group of teenage girls discovering their own powers. The cast also includes Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Emma Roberts and Adam Scott. Producers include Lorenzo di Bonaventura, with Adam Merims, Clarkson and Claire Parker as executive producers.
Following a torrid, COVID-impacted 2022 box office, China’s exhibitor market enjoyed a more than 80% rebound in 2023, reaching a full year total of RMB54.9 billion or $7.73 billion, according to consultancy Artisan Gateway.
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