China Is Why “Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings” Will Not Have A Disney+ Premier Access Release

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ring‘s Official Chinese Poster States Its Release Date Of September 2nd, One Day Before Its North American Release
With Hong Kong Legends Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh Co-Starring In The Film, Along With Many Chinese Diaspora Actors, Marvel Is Banking on Shang-Chi Preforming Well At The China Box-Office; Meaning No Disney+ Premier Access
The Sept. 2nd Release Date Has Not Been Officially Confirmed.
It Is Reasonable To Accept That Disney Is Negotiating With China For A Day-n-Date Release, After Pixar’s Luca Snagged An Early August 20th Release Date
The Delta Variant May Be Shang-Chi‘s Friend At The China Box-Office

By Ryan Carroll, Managing Editor

August, 2021.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is skipping Disney+ Premier Access to guarantee its success for a theatrical release at the China box-office, which may be Sept. 2nd according to its official Chinese poster.

Simu Liu, who will portray the titular character of Shang-Chi, posted Friday on his Twitter account the Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings official Chinese theatrical poster, which has a release date of September 2nd, in Chinese, one day before its North American release.

Now this theatrical release date for China has not been confirmed, but it is reasonable to expect that Shang-Chi could be released this day, as Disney secured an August 20th release date for Pixar’s Luca.

Luca, nor any other Hollywood fare, was not expected to be released at this time. But, as China’s cinema capacity is again reduced to 75% per screen, and 30% of all cinemas nationwide have closed or re-closed, due to the surging Delta Variant in many cities across China, Luca gained a surprise release.

The surging Delta cases, and cinema closures, caused the local blockbuster The Battle at Lake Changjin to postpone its August 12th release date, for an unspecified period of time. Leading many insiders to believe this is the true reason for Pixar gaining a summer release for Luca. Even though it had been approved for release earlier this year, along with Black Widow and others.

The Battle at Lake Changjin is a real-life military battle during the Korean War, where Chinese forces helped the North Korean army in a decisive victory against American troops. Know as Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the West, the battle saw 30,000 UN forces (“The Chosin Few”) surrounded by 120,000 Chinese troops in a surprise attack, that lasted for 17 days in subzero temperatures.

This is one of the key propaganda releases this year to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Communist founding of China. For its release to be pushed back by the surge of COVID cases in China is a significant sign that, the Chinese regulators do not wish to risk a poor showing for such a blockbuster film. Paving the way for Hollywood films to be released again, as Fast 9 was the last major Hollywood release on May 19th, followed by a mid-June release of Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway.

It is unclear how the Delta Variant situation will be in three weeks, but even if China gets control against of the recent COVID outbreak, screen capacity and cinema closures will probably remain the same as they currently are. Leading to the Chinese regulators to postpone any major local releases in favor of Hollywood fare, allowing China to save face on any local film set for release during the 100th Founding Anniversary.

Marvel Studios, and its President Kevin Feige, have put a lot of interest into the production of Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings, with the hiring of Asian-Americans as both the writer and its director. Along with casting notable China box-office stars from Hong Kong, Tony Leung (the perfect casting choice for The Mandarin) and Michelle Yeoh. While also casting two actors who were born in China, Simu Liu, Harbin, and Meng’er Zhang, Tianjin.

Recently Marvel fans have been taking to social media demanding that Disney release Shang-Chi simultaneously on Disney+ Premier Access, for an additional $30 on top of the Disney+ subscription. With fans stating that the Fourth Wave of COVID outbreaks across the U.S., due to the high numbers of unvaccinated Americans and the severity of the Delta Variant, that it is unethical not to give a safer viewing option of the film.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s decision to solely release Shang-Chi theatrically worldwide is, not due to the theatrical “experiment” for release strategies during the pandemic, as he stated in the Q3 earnings call with shareholders. Prompting a clear response from star Simu Liu on Twitter. Nor is it to do with the Black Widow lawsuit brought about by Scarlett Johansen for her theatrical backend participation pay.

Shang-Chi‘s sole theatrical release is for the viability of its take at the China box-office in the face of guaranteed record breaking piracy from Disney+ streaming in non-North American markets.

This piracy, which theater owners wrongfully blamed for Black Widow‘s second weekend drop of -67%, the exact same second weekend drop as F9 (-67%) which was theatrical only, while James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad saw a -70% in the same timeframe.

Black Widow‘s piracy, specifically in China, is what Disney is worried about. As Black Widow was available for illegal downloads and streaming, in Mainland China, within hours of its drop on Disney+ in Hong Kong.

Black Widow is by-far the most pirated movie of the pandemic, as bootleggers in China were able to grab a 4K copy of the film when it dropped on Disney+ Premier Access at midnight PST, which would have been 4:00 PM in Beijing. This was easily accomplished as Disney+ is available in Hong Kong, which is no long a One Country, Two Systems autonomous region.

Marvel and Disney understand the obvious risk of allowing Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings to have a simultaneous drop on Disney+ Premier Access, as it will ultimately affect Shang-Chi‘s viability at the China Box-Office.

With the Delta Variant limiting cinemas in China, the release date of September 2nd on the official Chinese poster suggest that Disney is currently negotiating a release for the film, even before Black Widow, which is already approved, is released.

The MCU is the biggest Hollywood franchise, possibly even bigger than any local franchises as well, with $2.8BnUSD at the China Box-Office to date. Even though China’s keyboard army has deliberately caused #FuManchu to trend on Chinese social media, particularly on Douban Movies, the only thing standing in the way of Shang-Chi‘s box-office success is COVID itself.

Stay Tuned China Watchers!

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About the Author

Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.