In just under one month, Marvel will unleash what is shaping up to be the biggest movie of the year, Avengers: Infinity War, and now it finally has secured release in the second biggest movie market in the world. Marvel has set a May 11 release in China for Avengers: Infinity War, which comes just two weeks after its domestic release on April 27. The Chinese release comes after the important May Day national holiday, which could lead to a big box office debut in the Middle Kingdom.
Select stars from Avengers: Infinity War will make a visit to China to promote the film on April 19 and conduct press interviews at the Shanghai Disney Resort. While a Chinese release may be a foregone conclusion for many tentpole movies, there is an arduous process for securing release in the Middle Kingdom for any non-Chinese film. The government imposes a quota for foreign releases and films must be submitted to the government for censorship approval. Government regulators set the release dates for all foreign films, while revenue-sharing films are distributed by state-run companies.
China has become an important international market for Marvel movies, with the last eight Marvel movies in a row earning at least $100 million in the country. China's importance at the global box office over the past few years can be illustrated by comparing the first two Avengers movies. 2012's The Avengers earned $623.3 million domestic, the highest-grossing Marvel film for the past five years until Black Panther usurped it, with $895.4 million internationally for a global total of $1.5 billion. Out of the $895.4 million international total, only $86.3 million came from China, although it was still the top foreign market as it was just starting to emerge as a global powerhouse. Three years later, Avengers: Age of Ultron earned $495 million domestic and $946.3 million internationally for a global haul of $1.4 billion. While the movie underperformed domestically, China picked up the slack, with a whopping $240.1 million.
The Chinese market has certainly become a force to be reckoned with at the global box office, with last year's top Chinese movie, Wolf Warrior 2, earning a whopping $854.2 million, becoming the highest-grossing film in Chinese history. Its worldwide total of $870.3 million, only $2.7 million coming from the U.S., was good enough for the seventh highest grossing film of the year worldwide, out-grossing the worldwide tallies of MCU hits Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($863.8 million) and Thor: Ragnarok ($854 million). With all that being said, the Chinese release will certainly be crucial to Avengers: Infinity War's worldwide success, and, just from seeing the exponential growth between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War may most certainly break the bank in China.
Anthony and Joe Russo direct Avengers: Age of Ultron, with the directors coming off 2016's Captain America: Civil War, which earned $1.15 billion worldwide in 2016, including $180.7 million in China alone. They are also directing the long-awaited Avengers 4, which will bring Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a close on May 3, 2019. Variety broke the news on Avengers: Infinity War's Chinese release earlier today.