The China release of Lulu Wang’s indie breakout The Farewell has been delayed. The Sundance hit was due in theaters on Friday, November 22, but was abruptly pulled from the schedule this week. There’s been no official word as to the reasons behind the change, although it is believed the family dramedy will get a later date.
Ticketing firm Maoyan Entertainment had acquired the movie in October for distribution in the Middle Kingdom, though its website now shows no specific release date. I hear there may have been local concern that the film could get lost this weekend, perhaps meeting a similar fate to Crazy Rich Asians, a cultural phenomenon domestically, but a picture that failed to connect with audiences in China.
The release change may have a silver lining as The Farewell, which has a 7.5 on Douban, would have gone up against Frozen 2 this session. The Maoyan “want to see” quotient on The Farewell is currently at just a little over 6K, versus Frozen 2‘s 199K. The latter film has seen strong pre-sales. A delay for The Farewell also means it could potentially benefit from awards momentum in early 2020.
The Farewell, which shot in China and contains both English and Mandarin, has made nearly $18M in North America where A24 distributes. Awkwafina stars in the story of a Chinese family who discovers grandmother has only a short time to live and decides to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding as an excuse to reunite and say goodbye to their beloved matriarch.
Producers are Big Beach Films’ Daniele Melia, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf, Depth of Field’s Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz, Seesaw’s Jane Zheng, Lulu Wang and Kindred Spirit’s Anita Gou.
The film, which currently holds a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, was recently nominated for Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Actress for Awkwafina at The Gotham Awards.