Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke on May 11 about the “difficulty” of getting films released in China, after it appeared that the latest “Doctor Strange” movie likely wouldn’t be released in China over the appearance of an Epoch Times newspaper box in the film.
“We'll continue to submit our films for release,” he said. “It's worth noting, I think though, that at the time that we're having some difficulty in getting our films in China, that 'Doctor Strange' did extraordinarily well."
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the second installment of the 2016 “Doctor Strange” franchise, was released in the United States on May 6. The movie has thus far enjoyed enormous success at the box office, grossing $213.6 million in the United States for a global haul of $507.8 million through May 10.
In the movie, a yellow newspaper box sits in the background during a fight scene when Doctor Strange takes on a monster called Gargantos on the streets of New York. The box has the Chinese characters 大紀元時報 for the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times.
“This recent development of The Epoch Times being seen as one of the major stars in the movie is definitely throwing a wrench in any sort of shot that they did have of getting into that market,” Fenton said.
Chapek expressed optimism that Disney will do well financially despite setbacks in the Chinese market.
“We’re pretty confident that even without China, if it were to be that we continue to have difficulties in getting titles in there, that it doesn’t really preclude our success given the relatively lower take rate that we get on the box office in China than we do across the rest of the world,” he said.
The Chinese regime has banned both the English- and Chinese-language websites of The Epoch Times out of fear that the paper’s uncensored coverage of current affairs in China could undermine the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. The Epoch Times regularly reports on political infighting within the party, the regime’s human rights violations against ethnic minorities and religious groups, and most recently, the Chinese people’s anger and frustration with the regime’s draconian COVID-19 policies.
A day later, Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, slandered The Epoch Times as an “evil” media organization during a daily briefing. She also attacked Pompeo for having promoted “political virus and political lies.”
In recent years, several of the biggest Marvel movies didn't open in China, including "Eternals," "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," and "Black Widow."