Universal Pictures’ “Despicable Me 2” has been denied release in mainland China in a move seen as the country’s attempts to diminish enthusiasm for American-made animated movies.
This move has come as a surprise to the country’s media, which ran several stories about the feature prior to the news. Beijing Youth Daily published an article that highlighted the sequel’s success in the United States and noted there were “hopes” of the film being imported in China, reports The Hollywood Reporter, noting the movie’s release was one of the most anticipated in the mainland. The first film was denied release in mainland China as well.
It is unknown why China’s State Administration for Radio, Film and Television deemed “Despicable Me 2” unfit to run in Chinese theaters as China Film Group’s imported-film distribution branch confirmed Pixar’s animated feature, “Monsters University,” will still be released in China on Aug. 23.
"It's very unlikely that it is about the content of the film," said Robert Cain, a producer and film consultant who specializes in the Chinese market. "What could 'Despicable Me 2' possibly be doing to threaten people's interests there?"
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The Los Angeles Times reported in June that denying the release of “Despicable Me 2” was seen as way to make room for Chinese animated movies, and Cain agreed.
“Chinese authorities have decided they aren't interested — at least for the moment — in more successful animated films coming from the U.S.,” reported The Guardian about Cain’s thoughts about the ban.
In a similar move, DreamWorks Animation's "The Croods," which was released in China on April 20, was later blocked and pulled from theaters two weeks earlier than planned. Sources told THR the film’s box office success was surpassing Chinese animated films, and therefore it was taken out of theaters.
"One could speculate that [Chinese authorities] are saying, 'OK, enough American animated movies this summer,'" Cain said. "Animation is an important area for China domestically."
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Universal declined to comment.
Sources: The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter