EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a twist to the end of the year at the China box office: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I won’t be a factor. The Lionsgate movie had been expected to release on November 21 in the Middle Kingdom, but that’s now changed. The first part of the trilogy’s finale has been moved off of that date and will not hit screens until 2015. I hear it might be as soon as January.

The reasoning behind the shift is not entirely clear — as with many things in China — but I understand the decision was quite recent. This could have to do with an encroaching Hollywood market share whereas the Chinese are known to be keen to keep local movies at the top of the heap. It’s also been suggested to me that there may have been a censorship issue stemming from some elements of violence which needed to be tapped down. Although China is notorious for its censorship, it’s worth noting that even in the UK, 2012’s The Hunger Games suffered seven seconds worth of tweaks to secure a 12A rating.

Nevertheless, in a rare phenomenon these days, China has not been the biggest overseas market for the Hunger Games franchise. So, this move may in some way actually benefit the film which is pretty much destined to massive numbers elsewhere as it starts to roll out this week. The past month in China has been loaded with Hollywood movies including Guardians Of The Galaxy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Maze Runner and this past weekend’s Interstellar and Penguins Of Madagascar just as December will belong solely to local pics. January looks like open season