Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings had a phenomenal box office debut. In fact, it was so successful that it even saved many films from being delayed further.
Surprisingly, however, the film has not yet been released in China—formerly one of the biggest money-makers for Hollywood films outside the United States. The same goes for Black Widow, which, even to this day, has not seen a theatrical release in the Asian country.
The reasoning? It all goes back to censorship and how the Chinese government has to approve every film released to theaters within its borders.
It looks like Marvel Studios’ struggle with China isn’t set to end anytime soon—certainly not before Eternals.
Eternals China Release in Jeopardy
According to the Wall Street Journal, Eternals is set to continue the trend of Marvel Studios films that have shaky release prospects in China. Comments that director Chloé Zhao made back in 2013 in regards to the country have recently come back up and have caused some backlash from China, which added to the issues already being faced with releasing movies there, hasn't helped the situation.
Disney has submitted several unreleased movies to Chinese officials for reviews but has not heard back about any of them—this includes the upcoming Eternals.
If the film does not see a release in China, alongside those still waiting for a date themselves like Shang-Chi, then the studio could potentially lose hundreds of millions of dollars—not to mention all the Chinese fans who would be unable to see the movies.
Say Goodbye to China, Marvel Studios?
The situation when it comes to releasing Hollywood films in China does not look great. All of Marvel’s future projects, not just Eternals, look like they don’t have a future in the country.
Over half of Marvel Studios' upcoming projects, and universe building, will be done with projects exclusively launched on Disney+—a service which is also not available in China and may never be.
All of this being said, maybe it’s time to consider Hollywood releases in China to be a lost cause. After all, letting storytelling be dictated by censorship is the opposite of what Marvel Studios should want to do.
Sadly, it’s not so black and white. Dropping China from release priorities means that an entire country of fans won’t be able to join in on the fun, and continue on the MCU ride which they were already on.
There’s no easy answer, and there may never be. For now, fans that can (sorry China), can watch Eternals when it drops on November 5 in theaters around the world.