Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained re-opened yesterday in China to disappointing numbers after it was yanked suddenly from the country’s theaters last month. Some “minor changes” were made, according to Shanghai’s UME Cineplex. The re-do reportedly is three minutes shorter, with nudity scenes omitted. The actioner about race relations was pulled within minutes into screenings on April 11, its opening day in China, without an official explanation. The film was expected to take in “a conservative 60 million yuan ($9.8M) in ticket sales” during its April debut, according to China Daily. But Sunday’s re-opening was poor. “The film’s seat occupancy rate is below 30 percent as of 3:30 this afternoon,” Zhang Wenwen, manager of Wanda International Cineplex, Beijing, told China Daily. In Shanghai, UME International Cineplex in Xintiandi showed a 50 percent rate, but that was still below the box office average compared with other Hollywood movies, including Iron Man 3 and Tom Cruise’s Oblivion, which debuted on Friday. Sony Pictures handled the international rollout of the film, which is a co-production between The Weinstein Company and Sony.
UPDATE, 10:49 AM: Sony Pictures just announced that China is going to give Django Unchained another bow in theaters. This time, maybe it’ll even screen all the way through. The studio releasing the Quentin Tarantino actioner about race relations issued this announcement this morning: “We are delighted that audiences throughout China will be able to experience Django Unchained beginning Sunday, May 12th. There is tremendous excitement, anticipation and awareness for the film and we thank the local authorities for quickly resolving this issue.” On April 11, Django was booked into theaters around China only to be pulled within minutes into screenings without an official explanation. It has taken Sony and Chinese officials all this time to complete negotiations.
UPDATED: The controversy here in the U.S. over Django Unchained‘s depiction of slavery apparently didn’t bother China’s oft-finicky film czars. Django has been cleared for an April 11 release in the territory, after the film already has …
As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.
For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it.
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor
In a year filled with remarkable imagery, the work of the Oscar-nominated cinematographers stands out as integral to the success of the movies they shot.
The nominees bring broad experience to their films. Seamus …
The last in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.
What the Academy says: 5 nominations (Picture: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone; Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz; Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino; Cinematography: Robert Richardson; Sound Editing: Wylie Stateman)
What the public says: $147.5M domestic boxoffice; $111.5M international (as of Feb. 1)
What Pete Hammond says: Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti-western homage was a Christmas Day release and struggled just to meet its late-year release date. That means its five nominations including best picture are an impressive feat considering many members probably didn’t get a chance to see it because of the earlier voting schedule. It just shows the love for all things Tarantino, as this is the third film for which the director has seen a best picture nom. Although unlike Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino didn’t earn a best director nomination this year.
With less than a month to go, the stage is set for one of the strangest Oscar showdowns in memory. Certainly the season started with some clear favorites emerging, like Argo at Telluride, Silver Linings Playbook at Toronto, then Lincoln just after the election, followed by Life Of Pi. I thought Paramount’s Flight also might emerge as a major best picture contender around this time, but when critics awards and early nominations for Globes and CCMAs started coming in, it was clear this was mainly just a play for Denzel Washington and John Gatins’ original screenplay. At Christmas time, we got Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the hotly anticipated Les Misérables to complete our seven-pack of best picture contenders. What many weren’t anticipating was that two small indie films that made a splash earlier in the year were also going to come in. Beasts Of The Southern Wild managed to hold on to all that momentum from its Sundance debut a year ago, and then
Jen Yamato is a Deadline contributor.
Action figures created for Quentin Tarantino’s slave pic Django Unchained are going for $300 apiece and up right now on sites like eBay after distributor The Weinstein Company announced today it was pulling they toys off the shelves. The dolls based on the Best Picture Oscar nominee prompted pundits and civil rights groups including Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network to call for a boycott. The NECA-issued toys had been selling for $39.99 on Amazon and had been created “as a matter of course” for fans 17 years and older, according to the studio, which released a statement today announcing the move. “In light of the reaction to the Django Unchained action figures we are removing them from distribution. We have tremendous respect for the audience and it was never our intent to offend anyone. Action figures have been created for all of Quentin’s films including Inglourious Basterds, and as a matter of course produced them for Django Unchained as well. “They were meant to be collectibles for people 17 years and older, which is the audience for the film.” Right now, a complete set of the toys is bidding up past $1000 and counting on eBay.