British Cat Movie to Be China’s First Import in Months

Ad Blocker Detected

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

The first import to break through China’s nearly two-month political moratorium on foreign films apparently won’t be “Black Widow” or “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Instead, Beijing is opening its doors to an unlikely contender for August: a little-known British Christmas film about a cat.

“A Christmas Gift From Bob” — a seasonal, feel-good sequel to the uplifting 2016 biographical drama “A Street Cat Named Bob” — will hit Chinese screens on Aug. 6. The first film told the real-life story of how busker and recovering addict James Bowen turned his life around after befriending a stray cat, and was based on Bowen’s memoirs.

“Gift From Bob” counts Chinese firm DDDream among its backers, with the company’s Yang Yiwen listed as an executive producer. It is directed by Charles Martin Smith, who also helmed an animal story made with Chinese financing in 2019: “A Dog’s Way Home,” the tale of a dog traveling hundreds of miles to find her owner, starring Ashley Judd and Bryce Dallas Howard, which was backed by China’s Bona Film. It grossed $5.4 million in China.

Starting in June, China began paving the way for homegrown nationalist movies premiering in July by clearing the release schedule of big Hollywood tentpoles that could challenge those political films at the box office. The last foreign imports to hit theaters were Oscar winners “The Father” and Thai drama “Happy Old Year,” which both debuted on June 18.

“Gift From Bob” released in just seven countries last November and December to gross a mere $485,000 worldwide amid the pandemic, of which just $19,000 came from the U.K.

No matter what its popularity, it will assuredly earn more in China, where the market rebounded from COVID-19 many months ago. It will be helped along by the addition of China-friendly elements: a new girlfriend for the main character of Asian descent, and a fleeting cameo from a Chinese character who does not appear in the original version of the film shown last winter.

In last year’s trailer for the film, as shown outside China, a racially diverse group of well-wishers stand around Luke Treadaway, who plays Bowen, while he’s busking on the street in the snow. Two older women wish him Merry Christmas as they hand him Christmas cards.

In the China version, the camera frames only a young Chinese boy in a red fur-lined parka, who proffers a bright red scarf dotted with pandas with both hands. “Hello from China,” he tells Bowen, before the man turns to Bob to let the cat give it a sniff, asking: “What do you think, do you like it?” In Chinese, the boy’s line is subtitled: “These are pandas from China.”

It also has removed a title card that reads “Packed With Christmas Spirit,” although it has kept the line: “Whatever form your family takes, that’s what Christmas is about.”

The original “A Street Cat Named Bob” released in China in 2018, two years after its initial debut. According to data from Maoyan, it grossed $8.2 million in the territory — half of what it lists as its global gross, a hundred times more than what Box Office Mojo stats show it earned in Britain ($83,000).

“Gift From Bob” will premiere in China alongside “Bigfoot Family,” a 2020 French-Belgian animated drama targeting young viewers.

optional screen reader

Read More About: