Fans in China rejoice as Marvel films return after apparent ban

An Ant-Man movie still showing Paul Rudd

After almost four years Marvel movies are returning to the Chinese box office, prompting joy from fans.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives on 7 February, followed by Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania two weeks after.

They will be the first Marvel films to play in Chinese theatres since Spider-Man: Far from Home in July 2019.

Chinese officials have never explained why Marvel movies were blocked from screening in the country. But the apparent ban began at a time when tensions between the US and China reached a high amid a trade war.

There was also no reason given by Marvel for the turnaround, in its brief announcement on Chinese social media network Weibo on Wednesday about the film release dates.

But it still drew jubilant reactions from movie lovers. “I feel like I’m dreaming,” said one user, while another exclaimed, “I have missed you so much”.

“Can you also re-release Spider-Man and Doctor Strange?” pleaded one fan, referencing movies that had been released during the hiatus and never hit the big screen in China.

The loss of the Chinese market in recent years has possibly cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars.

The first Black Panther movie in 2018 took in US$105m at Chinese theatres, while the second Ant-Man movie that same year generated $121m, according to Box Office Mojo.

The screening of foreign films is tightly controlled in China, which imposes a yearly quota. A division of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department, the China Film Administration, decides if a foreign movie can be released in the country.

Disney has previously refused requests from some countries, including China, to edit movies such as Eternals and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness to remove references to same-sex relationships.

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