BEIJING – Chinese movie fans celebrated the return of Marvel movies to local cinemas on Wednesday after an absence of nearly four years.
Foreign films are tightly controlled in China, which imposes annual release quotas, and films in the hugely popular Marvel franchise have been absent from the silver screen since the release of “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” in July 2019.
Disney’s Marvel Studios on Wednesday said on Weibo that “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will be released in Chinese cinemas on February 7, followed by “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” on February 17.
The China Film Administration, along with the Communist Party’s propaganda department, did not provide an explanation for why the Marvel film was banned.
Disney previously rejected requests by Chinese censors to remove references to same-sex relationships from films including “Eternals” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Chinese fans welcomed the announcement.
“It seems like nothing… I saw the Marvel universe,” one Weibo user wrote, referring to the series of highly interconnected franchises that have earned billions of dollars worldwide for the company.
“Are they going to release the other six Marvel (franchise) episodes that were blocked?” wrote another, adding: “Now we can escape the reality of Covid.”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to the 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther,” opened in theaters worldwide in November.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” — the third film in the franchise — will hit Chinese theaters on the same day as its U.S. debut.
The return to China would mark the end of Disney’s revenue in one of the world’s biggest movie markets.
The first Black Panther film earned $105 million in Chinese cinemas, while the second Ant-Man film earned $121 million, according to Box Office Mojo.