Although it's really no surprise, "Star Trek: Beyond" has made it past the censors in China and is now set for a Sept. 2 premiere.
That news from The Hollywood Reporter effectively finishes the international release list for "Beyond," and it's a big one, because some observers believe the film could top $100 million in that country alone.
The last two Star Trek movies also played in China for the first time, and really without any major Chinese partners. The 2009 "Star Trek" earned just $9 million in China, while 2013's "Star Trek: Into Darkness" racked up $57 million.
This time around, Paramount partnered with Chinese company Alibaba Pictures, a subsidiary of the massive e-commerce corporation Alibaba Group, which reported revenue of $11.8 billion last year. Through the deal, Alibaba will handle marketing, promotion and merchandising in the country.
That deal has been sweet for Paramount in the past. Last year, "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" earned $136 million in China, thanks in large part to Alibaba's work. That contributed to an overall $500 million international box office for the Tom Cruise film, according to The Numbers, which only earned $195 million in North America.
The current Alibaba deal not only included "Beyond" but also "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows," which is close to earning $60 million in China out of a $150 million international collection. Russia was second behind China with a gross just one-sixth of that. Those numbers are good for "Out of the Shadows," because it only earned $80.8 million domestically.
"Beyond" is poised for at least $200 million domestically, and is eyeing $500 million worldwide. Strong reviews have been helping the buzz for "Beyond" domestically in the days leading up to its Friday release in North America and many parts of the world, but the film does face stiff competition domestically.
While "Ghostbusters" is not expected to be a threat in its second week, "The Secret Life of Pets" already has grossed more than $200 million in 10 days, and could battle for a third week at No. 1 if "Beyond" has a less-than-spectacular opening weekend. Also, Twentieth Century Fox is readying "Ice Age: Collision Course," the fifth movie in the multi-billion dollar animation franchise, which also will be released this weekend.
Luckily for "Beyond," however, not only has "Collision Course" been slammed by the critics, but there's a good chance despite those reviews it will more likely earn a split with "Life of Pets," and not really affect "Beyond."
"Beyond" is looking to have the largest international growth of all the Trek films, a record currently held by "Into Darkness." It's worldwide gross of $467.4 million in 2013 outpaced its domestic haul by 104 percent. That topped 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," which previously held that record, growing its worldwide take just under 69 percent from its domestic gross.
"Star Trek: Beyond" opens Friday.