The coronavirus crisis is continuing to have a major effect on Hollywood as several major titles have scrapped release plans in China. Second only to the U.S., China has become one of the most important movie markets in the world, with studios relying heavily on box office dollars from the country to help turn movies into hits. In some cases, China can even rescue movies that may otherwise have turned into total flops. Unfortunately, a few big movies are going to have to sacrifice box office dollars in the Middle Kingdom in the interest of safety.
According to a new report, Dolittle, 1917, Jojo Rabbit and LIttle Women have all sidelined release plans in China. All four movies were set to be released in the country at various points this month. Interestingly, last year's Hellboy remake, which went on to become one of the year's biggest bombs, was also finally set to arrive in China on February 28. However, Millennium films has axed those plans as well. While the fate of Hellboy has already been sealed, some extra income from China certainly wouldn't have hurt matters any.
For Universal Pictures, this could prove to be a crushing blow. Dolittle is shaping up to be one of the biggest bombs in recent memory. The grand take on the Dr. Dolittle tale, which represents Robert Downey Jr.'s first big screen adventure since last year's record-breaking Avengers: Endgame, cost a whopping $175 million to produce. Yet, to date, it has earned just $127 million worldwide. Downey, thanks to the MCU, is a huge star in China and a release in the country could have helped bail the studio out a bit. That, unfortunately, isn't going to be the case.
1917, also a Universal Pictures release, has proved to be a sizable hit and is the frontrunner to take home Best Picture at the Oscars this year. With that, the Chinese release, scheduled for February 21, seemed perfectly timed. Jojo Rabbit and Little Women, also hits so far, were looking to similarly capitalize on awards season buzz, as Chinese audiences pay quite a bit of attention to the Academy Awards. Hence, the studios were looking to time these released in China around the Oscars. It's estimated that hundreds of millions in box office have been lost due to theater closures already.
Paramount is still aiming to release Sonic the Hedgehog on February 28, but those plans could easily change as things progress. Road House is also looking to release Marriage Story, which Netflix released in most territories around the world, on that date as well. Chinese government officials have tried to limit exposure to coronavirus, which has effectively shut down the movie business in the country as most of the nation's 70,000 movie theaters are shut down currently. More than 400 people have died, with another 20,000 infected, in China alone, as the outbreak has begun to spread to other nations. This comes from The Hollywood Reporter.