For years, Chinese regulators have imposed a blackout on
foreign-film imports during the peak summer blockbuster season. Known locally
as a "domestic movie protection period," the policy was designed to
boost the local industry by giving Chinese-made movies an uncontested run at
cinemas during the summer school break, which lasts, roughly, from late June
through August. Additional blackouts are instituted during Chinese New Year in
February and during the Golden Week holiday in October.
Last year's summer blackout ran June 19 to Aug. 23. It had the
desired effect: Raman Hui's CGI-live-action fantasy Monster Hunt grossed $385.2
million to become China's then biggest film ever, and other local pictures like Monkey King and superhero spoof Pancake Man earned over $150
But regulators have loosened their grip for this summer. According
to precedents set in recent years, Independence Day: Resurgence,
released June 24, should have been the last Hollywood tentpole to market, but
instead Paramount's Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles: Out of the Shadows was granted a July 2 release date (it easily won the weekend against
a Chinese-Korean co-production). More surprising, Warner Bros.'The Legend of Tarzan has been scheduled
for July 19 — Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie were in Beijing promoting
the movie Thursday night — and Universal's The Secret Life of Pets is set for Aug. 2.
Chinese production companies will then get a reprieve until Ice Age: Collision Course comes out on Aug. 23
and Jason Bourne bows on Sept. 1.