Disney Movies Face Release Roadblocks in a Major Market

Recently, several Disney movies have faced major hurdles in what was once considered the most important international market.


Over the past several years, the release of several Disney movies designed for box office success in China have gone on to face challenges and controversies that have complicated a decade of success for Disney in the country. The Marvel film, Eternals is the latest movie to face an uncertain future in China.

While Eternals is currently set for a November release in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports that the film’s release in China is now unclear. The uncertainty comes after China’s recent decision to censor the movie’s director Chloé Zhao, over comments made in 2013 which were critical towards the country.

© Marvel Studios

This news comes on the heels of the struggle Disney is currently facing with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which has yet to secure a release date in China despite the film’s record-setting global premiere. The Chinese censors never comment on their decisions, but some have speculated that the reason for the holdup is due to critical comments about China that lead actor Simu Liu made in 2017.


The first major sign of trouble for Disney came in 2020 with the release of the live-action Mulan film. The movie faced issues on multiple fronts. First, Disney faced criticisms from Western audiences regarding the decision to film in the Xinjiang region. And Chinese audiences also had a lukewarm reception to the film, with complaints about historical inaccuracies.

Mulan © Disney

The latest issues Disney faces with the Chinese release of Eternals underscores hurdles Hollywood executives have noted across the board. A combination of new scrutiny of Western influence by local audiences, favoritism toward local releases by Chinese officials, and an industrywide crackdown overseen by President Xi Jinping have created an uncertain future for Hollywood releases in China.


Disney’s Eternals joins a growing list of films currently in limbo in the Chinese market, including a number of 2021 blockbusters like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Black Widow.


These delays could potentially cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars in box-office grosses, as well as Chinese fans, who could lose interest in the Marvel series if they are unable to see major draws like Shang-Chi and Eternals.

Eternals ©Marvel Studios

We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more news on the future of Disney movie releases around the world, so stay tuned for the latest updates.

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