I recently wrote about China packing a slew of Hollywood movies into October ahead of a push toward local films that will crowd December and ensure that market share for China exceeds that of its frenemy. But there are a couple of movies from the majors that will still look to hop the wall in November — and they’ll do it in a direct face-off. DreamWorks Animation’s Penguins Of Madagascar recently was slated for a November 14 release, and I’ve now learned that Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar will go out two days before, on November 12.
DWA thought it would bow a week after Interstellar, so the close proximity of the date was a bit of a surprise. Still, according to a DreamWorks Animation spokeswoman, “Given the quota and the shortage of Western movies, we think there’s enough room in the marketplace for both movies.”
Nolan’s Dark Knight films have had success in the Middle Kingdom, and Interstellar is likely to be a big draw. I hear it’s getting all of the IMAX screens locally — and given that the director shot part of the film in that format, it’s a no-brainer that audiences seeking out an authentic look will be drawn. The Madagascar spinoff Penguins, which admittedly has a different demo, is in 3D, and that’s catnip to Chinese auds. Suffice it to say, November 12 (a Wednesday, by the way, which is not the typical China release day) through November 16 will be a fascinating period to keep an eye on.
Also notable is that DWA, which has the benefit of a close relationship with the Chinese via Oriental DreamWorks, sometimes has been given preferential treatment. In 2013, The Croods got an extended run (Western movies normally have four weeks to make hay). Jeffrey Katzenberg has made serious inroads in China, and his relationships with the powers that be are said to be very strong. That makes it curious that China has slated Interstellar vs Penguins this time around.
Anita M. Busch contributed to this report.