The rocky road to release continues for the new “Ghostbusters” movie.
The studio behind the all-female reboot, Sony, has learned that the movie has been denied a release in China, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
That’s a major blow for the comedy, which opens in the US on Friday. China, the second largest film market in the world after the US, has been a huge help in the global box office of other summer releases this year, including “Warcraft” which has earned $220.8 million in China to date (in the US only $46.6 million). “Zootopia,” with $235.5 million, is the highest-earning Hollywood film to play there so far this year. Essentially any movie aiming for blockbusters status relies on success in China.
The decision by the China Film Co., the state-owned film body which handles the importing and releases of foreign titles into the country, will likely open the floodgates for bootleg copies of “Ghostbusters” in that region of the world.
According to THR, the decision not to show the film isn’t due to China’s censorship of movies that “promote cults or superstition,” a prohibition going back to the Communist Party’s secular ideology, which over the years has stopped the release of movies in China like 2006’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and the original “Ghostbusters” in 1984.
A Chinese executive told THR that the China Film Co. made its decision “because they think it’s not really that attractive to Chinese audiences. Most of the Chinese audience didn’t see the first and second movies, so they don’t think there’s much market for it here.”
Box-office projections have “Ghostbusters” making around $50 million domestically this weekend.
Since THR posted its story, Deadline reported that Sony has yet to submit “Ghostbusters” for consideration in China, but plans to in the coming weeks.
Business Insider contacted Sony for comment but did not get an immediate response.
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