Warner Bros/Heyday Films’ Wonka has been granted a December 8 release in China, a week ahead of the domestic start and as part of an early overseas rollout for the Timothée Chalamet-starrer. Wonka will be going the same day as Universal/Illumination’s Migration in China.
These are just two of a raft of Hollywood movies to recently be approved for the massive market. Disney/Marvel’s The Marvels opens on Friday, followed by Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on November 17 and Disney’s Wish on November 24. Warner Bros/DC’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has been cleared for release but is awaiting a date.
Wonka, from Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Paddington director Paul King, sees Chalamet in the titular role of the enigmatic candy maker. The origins story/musical also stars Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins, Olivia Colman, Jim Carter and Matt Lucas. Hugh Grant plays the “something of a whopper” Oompa-Loompa named Lofty.
Wonka hit early domestic tracking last week with box office analytics film The Quorum predicting a $20 million-$23 million opening. It’s still quite early in the campaign, so there’s potential for upside. With the actors strike now resolved, Chalamet will be able to promote the film when he hosts SNL on November 11.
The film starts overseas rollout on December 6 with 37 markets in the first wave including the UK, Brazil, Mexico and now China, with more offshore markets added the following week. It gets to North American theaters on December 15.
As for the animated Migration, the latest from hitmaker Chris Meledandri’s Illumination, it’s also beginning international rollout ahead of domestic, and will be on staggered release throughout December and January with the UK joining the journey in February and Japan in March.
About a family of ducks who leave the comfort of their pond to head south for the winter, the voice cast includes Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key (who’s also in Wonka), Danny DeVito, Caspar Jennings, Tresi Gazal, Awkwafina, Carol Kane and David Mitchell. It’s directed by Benjamin Renner and co-directed by Guylo Homsy. Renner wrote the screenplay with The White Lotus creator Mike White. Meledandri produces with Janet Healy.
Hollywood has seen soft returns in China in the post-pandemic era as the local industry has bulked up and audience tastes turned more inward. Among the top studio movies there this year are Fast X, Meg 2: The Trench (which was a China co-production), Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Oppenheimer. Each of the sequels on that list performed lower than their predecessors. Heading into the end of the year, China has also stacked the deck with several local titles.
While talent had been slow to return to the market for promotional events post-Covid — Christopher Nolan was the first prominent filmmaker to visit with Oppenheimer in August — now that the actors strike is over, a window has at least opened, though we hear travel to the market remains somewhat tricky.