China Imposes Three-Month Ban on American Films

Sorry, China. No In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale for you!

by | December 6, 2007 | Comments

Remember last summer, when we were all complaining about Chinese theaters getting the world premiere of Spider-Man 3?

Well, the odds of something similar happening again — in the recent future, anyway — are looking pretty slim; as Variety reports, the Chinese government has banned the release of any American films for at least three months, and possibly until next May.

Nobody’s giving any official comments yet — in fact, a China Film spokesman is quoted as saying “There’s no such thing” and “We’ve never heard anything about this” — but the reasons for the ban are apparently primarily political. Recent diplomatic squabbles between the United States and China (over the sale of American arms to Taiwan, Congressional honors for the Dalai Lama, and a U.S.-led WTO action against Chinese piracy) have cooled relations between the countries, and conventional wisdom suggests this is the growing superpower’s way of flexing its economic muscle.

The ban isn’t entirely without precedent. Chinese authorities regularly impose blackouts on American films in an effort to reserve at least 50% of the box office for domestic pictures, and this year has already seen three of them. Still, Variety calls this the “least weighty explanation,” pointing out that high grosses for summer blockbusters such as Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and Spider-Man 3 has already tilted the balance for 2007 irreparably in favor of international releases.

Source: Variety