Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Black Adam Reportedly Banned From China Release

A new report indicates that both Warner Bros. Discovery's Black Adam and Disney's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are being banned from getting a theatrical release in China. Getting American blockbusters into Chinese theaters is often an uphill battle, since there are fairly strict limits on how many foreign films are allowed to enter the marketplace at any given time. That can be even more complex if the movies in question feature themes or imagery that the Chinese government finds offensive. The last six Marvel movies -- everything since Black Widow -- have failed to earn approval to screen in the nation.

Black Panther did manage to get approved to screen in China, and in the pre-pandemic box office things were a lot different. The movie earned $105 million in China, contributing significantly to its $1.34 billion haul. Nevertheless, given Marvel's recent failure to earn approvals, it's unlikely Disney was expecting a repeat performance.

Black Adam has a little less of a direct corollary to point to. Skyscraper, a Dwayne Johnson vehicle, earned $98 million in China -- but that was a movie with explicitly Chinese elements, centering on a skyscraper in Hong Kong. Shazam!, which earned $43.4 million at the box office there. That's almost exactly the difference between the film's final global haul and what Black Adam has made so far, although that's largely a piece of trivia more than a real judgment, since Black Adam's run has not completed yet. Still, both Hobbs & Shaw and Rampage did better in China than they did in North America, suggesting that Black Adam likely would have outperformed Shazam! in China. 

Per The Hollywood Reporter, whose were the first to report on these issues, Black Adam may have been banned due to the presence of Pierce Brosnan, who has expressed support for the Dalai Lama in the past. The Chinese government views the Dalai Lama as a threat, and has banned the work of other celebrities who have supported him publicly.

The Chinese censors rarely explain their decisions, and each of the Marvel movies have been scuttled for a different reason recently, but it's likely that LGBT content in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the underlying reason behind the ban, as it reportedly was for Thor: Love and Thunder and Lightyear

Black Adam and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are both currently in U.S. theaters.