Warner Bros.’ The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson, has secured a theatrical release date in China on March 18, marking the return of Hollywood superhero movies to the country after an extended drought.
The Batman will be hitting China behind the U.S., where it opens on March 4, after releasing in Taiwan and South Korea on March 2. Unlike other recent WarnerMedia tentpoles, however, The Batman won’t be released simultaneously on streamer HBO Max, which will help prevent high-quality pirate copies from reaching China before the movie is in cinemas. WarnerMedia has promised to wait 45 days before putting the new Batman installment on its flagship streaming service.
The release date for the DC title breaks a prolonged streak of China passing on the releases of Hollywood superhero movies. The last five Marvel blockbusters — Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home — were all left on the shelf by Chinese regulators, leaving studio insiders to speculate about the reasons and significance of the snubs.
The Batman‘s nearly three-hour runtime (2 hours and 55 minutes) and reportedly dark tone could make it a more of an acquired taste at the Chinese multiplex. Or, perhaps, some edgy, effects-heavy Hollywood entertainment will be just what some local moviegoers are looking for after a lengthy period of mostly seeing domestically produced Chinese New Year holiday product.
The other approved U.S. studio titles set for release in China this year include Disney’s Death on the Nile (Feb. 19), Woody Allen’s 2src18 film A Rainy Day in New York (Feb. 25) and Tom Holland’s Uncharted (March 14).
Alongside Pattinson, making his debut in the bat suit, The Batman also stars by Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Paul Dano as Edward Nashton/ Riddler, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, John Turturro as crime lord Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard as Gotham’s district attorney, Andy Serkis as Alfred and Colin Farrell as the Penguin.
Set in his second year of fighting crime, the film emphasizes Batman’s detective skills and sees the superhero uncover corruption in Gotham City while pursuing the Riddler, a serial killer who targets Gotham’s elite.