EXCLUSIVE: One of the most anticipated films of the year-end in China will have audiences waiting a little longer. The 3D remastering of Terminator 2: Judgment Day has opted out of a crowded late 2016 Middle Kingdom slot in favor of what could now be a first-quarter 2017 unveiling.
DMG Entertainment, Studiocanal and James Cameron teamed on the special 3D conversion with particular designs on the Chinese market. Cameron is a major draw in China, but the 1991 sequel was never released theatrically there. Nevertheless, it’s been popular on DVD. DMG and Studiocanal worked with the director to supervise and produce the digitally remastered 3D version.
T2 won four Oscars and grossed $520M worldwide. When news of the 3D conversion surfaced, Cameron said, “If you’ve never seen it, this’ll be the version you want to see and remember.” At the time, it had been expected this past summer, but the detailed conversion process was lengthy. A deal for release in the rest of the world is afoot.
The film celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, which would have made a nice fit for China, but the market became overloaded with Hollywood titles in November — part of a push to goose overall box office which has seen sagging growth throughout 2016. I understand the folks behind the updated T2 had the option of being in the mix, but wished to avoid a clash.
The film was looking at an early December slot — DMG’s Point Break last year was successfully released as the last Hollywood movie before the PROC blackout in December. But with screen share already a dogfight given so many films in the market, it made more sense to wait.
What’s more IMAX screens will be largely occupied by Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them as well as the coming behemoth The Great Wall. That key component would have been lacking on T2 which is believed to be the most advanced 3D technology/4K conversion to date and would benefit nicely from the format.
So, what happens now? DMG’s China component, DMG Yinji, which has a proven track record for securing key dates (Point Break, Iron Man 3), is thought to be eyeing the early part of 2017. Hollywood titles have yet to be confirmed for the first quarter, although there is speculation that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story could slot into January given that Force Awakens booked passage there last year. The Lunar New Year begins January 27 and typically the month of February is an unofficial blackout.
We’ll know more as a date gets solidified, but for now, opting out of a 2016 bottleneck looks like a smart move with this film more likely to breathe — and cash in — at another moment. Cameron’s Avatar grossed about $200M in China even before the market exploded in recent years. The 3D re-release of Titanic in 2012 made about $150M. Even Terminator: Genisys, which did not directly involve Cameron, made $113M last year.