‘The Mauritanian’ Heads for Theatrical Release in China
Kevin Macdonald’s drama thriller “The Mauritanian” is poised to receive a belated theatrical release in mainland China.
The film, which charts the ordeal of a man held without trial at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, will hit Chinese theaters on Aug. 23, 2022. That is more than a year after its theatrical outing in North America and multiple international markets in February 2021.
International rights to the picture were handled by STX International. In China, the film’s release is effected through a state-owned distributor and supported by Ancore Pictures. Ancore’s website shows a previously planned release in June 2021.
China’s cinema industry operated largely normally in 2021 and was the world’s largest box office last year. It operated with lower than normal volumes of Hollywood titles. Imports were trimmed to reflect the bilateral political tensions between the two superpowers. In 2022, the China box office is down by some 30% year-on-year and is trailing the revived North American market.
The move to release the film at this time may mark the end of the annual mid-summer season when Chinese-language films are favored by authorities that regulate the sector. Another Hollywood title, Universal-Illumination’s “Minions: The Return of Gru” is also set to release in China on Friday, Aug. 19.
But the restart of releasing American movies in Chinese theaters after a more than two-month hiatus since “Jurassic World Dominion” may not be an indicator of any kind of high-level political reconciliation.
The midweek release date does not point to the film being a high priority. Moreover, “The Mauritanian” chronicles an embarrassing lapse of justice in the U.S. that successive American regimes have failed to fully address.
STX’s synopsis of the picture reads: “This is the true story of Slahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years. Alone and afraid, Slahi finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander and her associate Teri Duncan who battle the U.S. government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client at every turn. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, uncovers shocking truths and ultimately proves that the human spirit cannot be locked up.”
The film stars Tahar Rahim as Slahi and Jodie Foster as Hollander.
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