Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, which is shaping up to be one of the fall’s biggest hits — as well as a major Oscar contender — will receive a major financial boost when it opens in China in November. The Beijing News, a Chinese government-associated newspaper, reported that the official Film Bureau had approved Gravity for release, a much-desired privilege since the world’s second-largest movie market maintains a quota on the number of foreign films. In order to promote their own homegrown movie industry, the Chinese government limits the number of foreign-made films to 34 per year. This late in the year, it was feared that all those slots were taken, but Gravity, a 3-D IMAX movie that features the nascent Chinese space program, reportedly made the cut.
China’s growing clout has been felt throughout Hollywood, as studios have gone to great lengths to make films that appeal to an Asian audience. Several tentpoles — like Michael Bay’s next Transformers movie — have arranged to be Chinese co-productions in order to guarantee a wide release in China. To appreciate what such placement is worth, Iron Man 3 grossed more than $121 million in China, and Pacific Rim earned more in China ($112 million) than it did in the United States ($102 million).
In Gravity, Sandra Bullock’s lost-in-space astronaut retreats to the Chinese space station after her space shuttle and the International Space Station are shredded by space debris.