'Lord of the Rings' re-release unlikely to defeat ‘Avatar’ in China, but booming Chinese movie market ensures ‘Lord of the Rings’ re-release will beat first run performance: observers
Published: Apr 15, 2021 10:58 PM

Promotional material of The Lord of the Rings trilogy Photo: Sina Weibo

Promotional material of The Lord of the Rings trilogy Photo: Sina Weibo

The three epic fantasy adventure films in The Lord of the Rings trilogy are set for re-release in the Chinese mainland, this time in 4K. The first film is set to hit theaters on Friday, with the second following up on April 23. The release date for the third film has not yet been announced. 

Chinese film observers said the re-releases of these blockbuster films in the Chinese mainland market is a desperate move by Hollywood amid the still poor COVID-19 situation in the US. Chinese moviegoers' passion for Peter Jackson's trilogy ensures that the films are sure to see their box office rise, but they most likely won't perform as well as the March re-release of James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar.  

Many Chinese netizens took to social media to express their excitement after Warner Bros announced the news on Wednesday.  

"It makes me feel like it is another Chinese New Year, a time when I watch many good films. I cannot wait to go to the cinema," one Chinese netizen commented on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

"The Lord of the Rings trilogy will do better than its premiere in China almost one decade ago at the box office as the booming Chinese film market and many Chinese moviegoers hope to wash away their regret of not watching it in the theater during its first run," Shi Wenxue, a teacher at Beijing Film Academy and a film critic, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring earned 56.2 million yuan ($8.6 million) in the Chinese mainland in 2002, while The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers brought in 24 million yuan in 2003.

Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times that the beloved fantasy trilogy is less likely to outperform Avatar due to their proximity to China's May Labor Day holiday on May 1, which will see the release of a number of highly anticipated Chinese films. 

"The length of Lord of the Rings series and its epic narrative style will also make sure that its audience will be more limited than that of Avatar," Xiao added. 

However, the films most likely will make more than they did during their first run due to how the Chinese market has grown over the past two decades. 

The re-release of Avatar had grossed 369 million yuan as of Wednesday.

According to China's ticketing platform Maoyan, a total of five films, including The Six, a documentary about the Chinese survivors of the Titanic executive produced by Cameron, are also set to be premiere Friday, which also bring some competitive challenges to Lord of the Rings.

For presales, the top three newly released films set for this weekend on Maoyan are Chinese romance film August Never Ends, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Japanese animated film Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet.

In addition to the re-release of The Lord of the Rings series, the Justice League film is also getting a re-release of sorts in the likes of Zack Snyder's Justice League. Director Zack Snyder's cut of the 2017 US superhero film will be heading to Chinese streaming platforms including Youku and iQIYI.

"They are releasing Zack Snyder's Justice League because of the potential domestic market for the film. It is sure to make a big wave in the Chinese online streaming film market," said Xiao.