‘The Eternals’ trailer’s debut on Sina Weibo signals Marvel’s confidence for a Chinese mainland release, but Chinese audiences don’t buy it
Published: May 26, 2021 06:00 PM
Promotional material of The Eternals Photo: Sina Weibo

Promotional material of The Eternals Photo: Sina Weibo

Marvel Studios released a Chinese-subtitled trailer for The Eternals, on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Monday without marking its director and the  Oscar winner Chloe Zhao, indicating that the studio is confident that the film will get a release date in China, the world's largest film market. 

Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times that as a mega-budget Marvel film with a Chinese director and an actress of Chinese decent in a lead role, the studio is sure to do all it can to release the film in the Chinese mainland, a film market that has returned to near normal while the global pandemic continues to hurt theaters elsewhere. 

"The Hollywood magnates know that their films' box office potential in the Chinese mainland is significant," he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the trailer has earned 1.3 million views on Sina Weibo. However, judging from the reaction, many Chinese moviegoers appear to be underwhelmed by the reveal, commenting that the trailer had "a strong taste of Zhao's Nomadland."  

"From The Rider, Nomadland to The Eternals, Zhao Ting has achieved an extreme when it comes to filming 'nomadic' groups in the West," on Chinese netizen wrote on Weibo.

"The beginning of the trailer shows a similar style to that of Nomadland. I think Zhao may have adopted many of the cinematography and film techniques used in Nomadland for The Eternals, which makes me concerned that the new Marvel film might be difficult to understand," another netizen who described themselves as a film lover commented on Sina Weibo.  

However, Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday that while Zhao is the director, she is just one part of the whole production. 

"Marvel films are not like some art films like Nomadland in which the director plays a core position and has more creative freedom. The production team from Marvel Studios has their own Hollywood film industry process and will not allow the director to put too much personal style into it. But word-of-mouth from audiences or some other unknown elements might influence its box office," said Shi.   

The Eternals is set to be released in North America on November 5, but has not yet received a release date for the Chinese mainland. Some media overseas including Variety once reported that the controversy surrounding Zhao concerning things said during past interviews may mean the film will face an "uphill battle" to enter the mainland.