According to a new report, 2022’s two final superhero outings, Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and DC Films’ Black Adam, are going to have to attempt to turn a profit without the help of the Chinese market.
As per “several sources working in the Chinese [film] industry” who allegedly spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney and Warner Bros.’ respective year end tent poles “are believed to have little chance of winning approval at this stage.”
China’s censorious regulatory board has yet to provide any official confirmation of the films being denied screen time within their borders, and as such the exact reasons for their bans is currently unknown.
However, the communist regime’s previous track record has given birth to some speculation.
In regards to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it is currently thought that the film has drawn China’s ire due to its onscreen depiction of Ayo and her fellow Dora Milaje member Aneka as being in a lesbian relationship.
Homosexuality is strictly frowned upon by The Red Dragon’s current government, with its ruling Chinese Communist Party even outright banning television and film productions from showing “same-sex relationships” in 2016 and doing the same in regards to video games in 2021.
As for Black Adam, the leading theory as to why it displeased Chinese censors is that it stars Pierce Brosnan, who in 2020 shared a photo of himself and his family alongside the 14th Dalai Llama, Tenzin Gyatso, to his personal Instagram in honor of the spiritual leader’s 85th birthday.
“Happy 85th birthday your Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama,” wrote the Doctor Fate actor in the caption to his post.
“This was photo taken nineteen years ago in San Francisco, our son @Paris.Brosnan was just a few months old,” he recallled. “@keelyshayebrosnan her Mum Sharon and I spent a few moments with his Holiness (as he blessed Paris) before I introduced His Holiness on stage. Wishing you every blessing and good health on your 85th year.”
Given that China does not recognize the independence of the Dalai Lama’s native country of Tibet nor its government-in-exile, it’s likely that China did not take kindly to Brosnan’s recognition of what they believe to be a rebel state.
Should either or both of these films never see the light of day in China, it would mark a continuation in the country’s recent and near-outright rejection of American superhero films.
Over the last three years, only one superhero film has managed to snag a coveted Chinese theatrical release window – that being Warner Bros. Discovery’s The Batman.
Outside of the Caped Crusader’s latest adventure, the last superhero film to open in China was 2019’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, with every other offering up until The Batman running afoul of the country’s communist sensibilities.
As noted above, the loss of a Chinese release date is likely to prove devastating for both films’ bottom lines.
Typically, films need to earn roughly two- to two-and-half- times its production budget to break even.
Costing a reported $200 Million to produce, Dwayne Johnson’s passion project needs to crest at least $400 Million to bring WBD’s accounting sheets into the black.
However, as of about a month after its release, the Khandaqi affair has only earned (as per Box Office Mojo) $142,523,090 domestically and $184,700,000, for a worldwide total of just $327,223,090 – well short of its break even point and far from having a conversation about profit.
Over in Wakanda, Marvel is said to have spent $250 Million making its Black Panther-less Black Panther film, thus leaving it with an estimated box office goal of roughly half-a-billion dollars.
With the loss of China’s ticket sales, Shuri and crew are almost assuredly set to find themselves facing an uphill battle in terms of turning a profit.
Both Black Adam and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are in theaters now.