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The animated feature Despicable Me 2 is already considered a global smash hit and has made Universal Pictures a ridiculous amount of money, but today we learn that their overall potential earnings have taken a bit of a hit. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Illumination Entertainment film has been denied a theatrical release in China - a market that has grown exponentially in importance over the last few years.
While the reasons behind the decision are unclear, the ruling being made by China’s State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), there is some suggestion that the reason may simply be that the country is trying to limit the number of American animated films that are released. Pointing to a case earlier this year when DreamWorks Animation's The Croods was pulled from Chinese theaters two weeks earlier than anticipated, producer and film consultant Robert Cain told the newspaper, "One could speculate that [Chinese authorities] are saying, 'OK, enough American animated movies this summer.' Animation is an important area for China domestically." Furthermore, Cain says that the decision likely has nothing to do with the content of the movie itself.
Universal has already had a pretty good run in China so far this year. Three of its movies - Oblivion, Jurassic Park 3D and Les Miserables - all came out in the Asian market within the calendar year, and this Friday will see the release of Justin Lin's Fast & Furious 6. The LA Times says that the late release actually could hurt the action movie as audiences may have already turned to pirated versions in order to get their chance to see it.
Thanks to Despicable Me 2's success in pretty much every other global market, China's decision really doesn't hurt Universal that much. The movie opened at number one with a surprising $83 million take when it first arrive in theaters earlier this month and has since gone on to make $279 million. Amazingly, the film is an even bigger hit in foreign markets, where it has already accumulated $308 million - creating a total of $587 million thus far. It only dropped to second place at the box office in America last weekend, but there's a possibility it could hold on to that spot facing off against James Mangold's The Wolverine starting this Friday.
Despicable Me 2 sees the former supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) sign up with a group called the Anti-Villain League to try and capture a formerly-presumed-dead villain named El Macho (Benjamin Bratt). Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, and Steve Coogan voice supporting characters in the movie.