The prospects for Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings getting a China release date are dwindling. This in the wake of comments originally made by star Simu Liu in 2017 which resurfaced this week and have made waves on Chinese social media. In a 2017 interview with the CBC, the Chinese-Canadian actor referenced his parents telling him of conditions under Communist rule and referring to China as a “third world” country where people were “dying of starvation.”
While it was already iffy that Shang-Chi would get a Middle Kingdom date — the market has been stingy of late — its fate may now be sealed. The Chinese government, and the propaganda department which oversees film, have shown themselves to be mercurial to say the least — recall that years-old comments made by Chinese-born Chloe Zhao appeared to kibosh the release of her Oscar-winning Nomadland. Initially, Zhao was heralded in the Middle Kingdom for her accomplishments, but as soon as her comments reappeared, sentiment turned the other way.
A question mark has been hanging over Zhao’s Marvel title The Eternals, and the current brouhaha with Liu makes it seem likely that film will not be approved. However, it remains an open question as to whether the government or Zhao would attempt to “rehabilitate” the situation.
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Disney, whose Black Widow has also lingered on the shelf and is not expected to be released theatrically in China, is not the only studio facing difficult times in the world’s currently largest box office market. Although Free Guy was granted a release — and has done bang-up business ($67M to date), the powers that be have been holding off with access over the past few months. Pre-Free Guy, the last Hollywood movies allowed were back in May and June.