Genius Brands Animated Series ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ to Stream in China

Genius Brands International has announced the launch of season one of its flagship animated children’s series, “Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,”  on Alibaba Group’s video streaming platform Youku starting March 2022.

Youku is one of the top three streaming platforms in the mainland China territory, according to Genius. 

Additionally, the  series will be available via the Tudou and Kumiao apps.

“Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,” executive produced by and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, focuses on the adventures of six unique kids who are learning to master their super skills, along with their ABCs, with the help of their teacher Arnold Armstrong (aka the superhero Captain Fantastic).

“I have always loved bringing my latest projects to my Chinese fans, because they’re some of the most passionate fans in the world, so I can’t wait for them to see ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,’” said Schwarzenegger in a statement.

“Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten” premiered on April 23, 2021, on Genius Brands’ Kartoon Channel! in the United States and Canada and has since garnered more than 75 million views, according to Genius.  The company will continue to launch the series in key territories around the world in 2022.

“Alibaba’s Youku is one of the most far-reaching media platforms for kids in the world, and we are excited to make ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ available to millions of kids across China,” said Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands, in a statement. “This unique action-packed series delivers all the elements that resonate with kids today, along with positive messaging and Arnold’s star power.”

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“Genius Brands has done a tremendous job of creating a truly unique series that kids and their families can enjoy together,” said Aaron Liao, GM of Youku Kids, in a statement. “With Arnold Schwarzenegger driving ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ and the creative storylines and compelling characters, we have no doubt that we will be able to create an impressive fan base in China, building on the success of the series in the U.S. and Canada.”

The series, voice-directed by John Landis and featuring head writer Steven Banks (“SpongeBob SquarePants”), is produced by Genius Brands and Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment in association with Schwarzenegger’s Oak Productions. Gill Champion, CEO of Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment; Heyward; Schwarzenegger; and Paul Wachter of Main Street Advisors serve as executive producers.

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Tops $1 Billion Global Box Office as No. 1 Theatrical Release in 2021

Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home ended the suspense early, topping $1 billion in projected global ticket sales through Dec. 26, according to industry data. The third webcrawler movie starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man was expected to give China’s war drama The Battle of Lake Changjin ($902 million) a run for top-grossing theatrical release in 2021.

The Sony release is now the first movie to break the $1 billion threshold in the pandemic era — doing so in about 12 days, a good sign for Hollywood and exhibitors that moviegoers are both largely vaccinated and unalarmed by the new Omicron COVID variant. The title generated $81 million across 4,336 North American theaters.

Notably, No Way Home more than doubled ($467 million) the domestic revenue of previous chart topper Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at $224 million.

Among other new releases, Universal/Illumination’s animated musical sequel Sing 2 generated $41 million through the ended Holiday weekend, while Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow’s The Matrix Resurrections realized about $14 million in ticket sales. The fourth installment in the sci-fi franchise — after 18 years — is streaming concurrently on HBO Max as part of WarnerMedia’s 2021 release strategy.

Disney/20th Century Studios’ The King’s Man saw $10 million in ticket sales across 3,180 screens during the extended weekend. Finally, American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story, Lionsgate/Kingdom Story Company’s football-themed biopic, saw $6.2 million in ticket sales.

Kino Lorber Sets Jan. 4 Disc Dates for Trio of 1940s Classics

Kino Lorber has added three classics from the 1940s to its Jan. 4 release slate. China, Golden Earrings and All My Sons will be released on Blu-ray Disc only under the Kino Lorber Studio Classics line.

China is a 1943 wartime drama from director John Farrow that stars Alan Ladd as an American gasoline salesman in 1941 China who supplies his wares to the highest bidder — in this case, the enemy Japanese. His unbiased business philosophy is tested on a trip to Shanghai when he meets an American schoolteacher (Loretta Young) and her Chinese students, who tell him of Japanese cruelty. In a surprise show of allegiance, he joins a band of Chinese guerrillas on a daring heist. The film set a Hollywood record of using 70 pounds of precious, rationed gunpowder.

Bonus features include a new audio commentary by film historian Eddy Von Mueller.
 
Golden Earrings (1947) is an adventure film in which Marlene Dietrich plays a lusty gypsy. Escaping from the Nazis, British colonel Ralph Denistoun (Ray Milland) and his partner arrange to meet in Stuttgart to steal Hitler’s poison gas formula. On the journey, Denistoun meets Lydia (Dietrich), who keeps him out of harm’s way. Only with the help of the extraordinary gypsy woman can he finish the mission that will make him a hero in this tale of espionage and intrigue from Hollywood ace Mitchell Leisen, the director of Death Takes a Holiday, Hands Across the Table, Easy Living, Midnight, Arise, My Love and No Time for Love.

Bonus features include a new audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle.

All My Sons (1948) is a drama based on the work of acclaimed playwright Arthur Miller and stars Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster. The film is a wartime tragedy of a family torn apart and forced to come to terms with their inner demons. Chris Keller (Lancaster) returns home from war with news of his impending engagement to Ann Deever (Louisa Horton), the fiancée of his missing-in-action and presumed-dead brother. As the ghosts of the past creep back into the Keller home, Chris’s father (Robinson) makes a stunning and painful revelation that will change the family forever. Directed by Irving Reis and shot by Russell Metty (Touch of Evil, Spartacus), the film has been hailed as unforgettable tale of moral dilemmas.

Bonus features include a new 2K master and a new audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Lee Gambin.

Can ‘Spider-Man’ Beat the Chinese Army?

NEWS ANALYSIS — Following a monstrous opening weekend, Sony Pictures’ latest “Spider-Man” franchise release, No Way Home, has already topped $600 million in global ticket sales after just five days in theaters. The movie now lays claim to having the second-highest box office debut in history — surpassing Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s a staggering accomplishment during a pandemic, considering that the new fast-spreading Omicron variant has quickly become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S.

With just days left in 2021, the question looms: can No Way Home maintain its theatrical appeal through the winter holidays and challenge China’s The Battle at Lake Changjin — a nationalist war drama that has generated more than $900 million in revenue since its Oct. 1 debut — for No. 1 at the global box office?

Sponsored by the Chinese government, Lake Changjin presents a fictionalized account of China’s People’s Volunteer Army helping North Korean troops defeat the U.S.-backed South Korean army at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir 71 years ago during the Korean War. Chinese involvement against U.N. forces in the conflict prolonged the fighting, ultimately resulting in a truce and the establishment of the current demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

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Lake Changjin has generated almost the entirety of its box office gross solely from Chinese audiences, as has Chinese comedy Hi, Mom, which has generated more than $822 million on its own since its February release.

This year, Hollywood largely found a cold shoulder from China as the country celebrated the 100th anniversary of the communist party’s founding — and government officials preferred showcasing local movies rather than Western titles.

Indeed, Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage has yet to find a Chinese release date. And there is no release date for No Way Home.

Previous U.S. box office polesitter Disney/Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was completely ignored by Chinese officials largely due to politics. Shang-Chi star Simu Liu reportedly emigrated to Canada as a child with his family in part to escape communist rule.

Regardless, the 2019 “Spider-Man” movie, Far From Home, starring Tom Holland as the webslinger, generated $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office, including $200 million in China.

“Marvel films have a consistent habit of playing very strongly throughout the weekend as demand often scales very well,” Shawn Robbins with BoxOffice Pro, wrote in a post. “The beginning of holiday breaks and vacations should help No Way Home maintain that status quo.”

Chinese Anime Fantasy ‘The Monkey King: Reborn’ Due Digitally and on Disc Dec. 7 From Well Go

The Chinese anime action-adventure fantasy The Monkey King: Reborn will be released digitally, and on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 7 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Playing off the three “Monkey King” live-action films, The Monkey King: Reborn follows the short-tempered trickster after he is insulted while visiting a temple with his master Tang Monk. Outraged, he destroys a magical tree and accidentally releases the ancient King of Demons, who kidnaps Tang Monk as revenge for his long imprisonment. Now, Monkey King and his fellow disciples must rescue their master within three days, before the demon king regains his full power and unleashes his armies to destroy the Earth.

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Directed by Wang Yun Fei (four-film “Yugo & Lala” franchise), The Monkey King: Reborn features an all-new English dub for this release.

‘Shang-Chi’ Passes ‘Black Widow’ as Top 2021 U.S. Box Office Release

The Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has surpassed Marvel Studios’ Black Widow as the top-grossing domestic movie with three months left in the 2021 box office.

Shang-Chi, starring Chinese-born Simu Liu, generated $3.59 million across 3,952 theaters Friday night (Sept. 24) to reach $186.7 million. That figure tops the previous polesitter, Marvel’s Black Widow, with $183.4 million. Shang-Chi is expected to dominate the domestic box office for the fourth consecutive weekend.

Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, still leads the global box office with $378.3 million, compared to $330.8 million for Shang-Chi.

Both titles, along with other major Hollywood releases, have not yet been released in China, the world’s No. 2 box office market. While no official reason has been given, reports suggest that with the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party occurring this summer, the Chinese government is reluctant to showcase Western movies.

Despite Shang-Chi featuring a largely Asian cast, including Liu, the actor emigrated to Canada with his parents at the age of five — a move, media reports suggest, was largely due to his parents’ opposition to communism.

Regardless, the success of the two movies heralds back to Disney’s triumphant pre-pandemic 2019 box office, when it tallied more than $11 billion in global ticket sales — largely on the back of Marvel superhero movies, and the Chinese box office.

Chinese Martial Arts Actioner ‘God of War II’ Due on Digital and Disc Sept. 21 From Well Go

A follow-up the 2017 Chinese martial arts actioner God of WarGod of War II lands on digital, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Charles Lin (The Outsiders) and Yuxi Liu (Legend of the Phoenix) star in the story of Lü Bu. Years after escaping, Lü Bu has no memory of his hellish early life as a test subject for a ruthless imperial sorceress. Now, he is feared across the land as the conquering general under warlord Dong Zhuo, for whom he has blazed a trail of victories on the battlefield. But when a woman arrives at the palace claiming to be his long-lost love, the facade begins to fade, and he begins to realize that his closest allies may yet be his most dangerous foes.

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The first feature film of director Cong Cai, God of War II features a guest appearance from David Wu (Farewell My Concubine) and co-stars Yinghao Sheng in his feature film debut.

Chinese Mixed Martial Arts Film ‘Crazy Fist’ Due on Hi-Yah! Streaming Service Aug. 6, Disc and Digital Sept. 14 From Well Go

The Chinese boxing-meets-mixed martial arts drama Crazy Fist will debut exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-Yah! on Aug. 6, before hitting digital, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 14 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

First time feature film director Guo Qing (who also appears in the film) directs Dragon Blade-alums Steve Yoo and Wang Wei, plus Collin Chou (Matrix II, III), Xiaoming Huang (Ip Man 2), Wei Zhao (Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) and retired professional bodybuilder Kai Greene (“Stranger Things”).

In the film, after an opponent dies mid-match, a prominent MMA champion swore never to fight again, instead retiring to run his family’s international business. However, when his best friend dies under suspicious circumstances during another tournament, he has no choice but to step back in the ring to help uncover the truth.

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In addition to its original language track in Mandarin, Crazy Fist also includes an English dub.

Chinese Films ‘Little Q,’ ‘Midnight Diner’ Due on Blu-ray Aug. 17 From Well Go

Two Chinese films, the family friendly Little Q and the comic drama Midnight Diner, are coming to Blu-ray Aug. 17 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Based on a true story, the human-canine friendship film Little Q stars Simon Yam (Ip Man) as a recently blinded chef who forms a bond with his seeing eye dog. The film also stars Gigi Leung (The Monkey King 3), Him Law (The Monkey King 2), Charlie Yeung (Bangkok Dangerous), Shanshan Yuan (Lobster Cop), Angela Yeun (The White Girl), Frankie Lam (The Merger) and Roger Kwok (Kung Fu Mahjong).

The film follows Little Q, a yellow lab with a curious birthmark, who is training to become a guide dog for the blind. When his training is complete, Little Q is sent to help Lee Bo Ting, a famous, recently blinded chef. Irritable and bitter, Bo Ting is at first reluctant to rely on Little Q and even tries to drive him away several times. But through his loyalty, Little Q eventually teaches Bo Ting how to trust again, opening him up to a new life of wonderful possibilities.

Midnight Diner

Based on the celebrated manga series “Shin’ya Shokudo” by Yaro Abe and previously adapted into  TV series in Japan, Korea and China, the cinematic version of Midnight Diner also debuts on Blu-ray Aug. 17. In the film, set in a little restaurant in Shanghai, Tony Leung Ka-Fai (Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong) makes his directorial debut and plays the leading role of a man who makes a set of special food for each guest who visits the restaurant and listens everyone’s story. It also stars Deng Chao (Shadow), Eddie Peng (Operation Mekong), and Vision Wei (Lost in White).

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In the film, a small, counter-only restaurant, open daily from midnight to 7, is lovingly helmed by its mysterious owner and chef, a quiet enigma who provides no menu yet can make any dish the customer desires. Year after year, people flock from far and wide to the mysterious Midnight Diner to share their stories, savor delicious home cooking, and finally, to leave refreshed, feeling equally full and ready for their next adventure.

Biden Ends Trump-Era War on China’s TikTok, WeChat Apps

President Biden June 9 signed an executive order effectively ending the former Trump Administration’s efforts to force a sale of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to American business interests.

The order ends the former administration’s war on the WeChat app, a multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Chinese media giant Tencent. The Trump administration had sought the ban in the United States, citing national security risks.

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Biden’s order stipulates that the Commerce Department is now tasked with determining the potential security risks associated with software owned and operated by foreign adversaries, among other responsibilities.

“I have determined that additional consideration must be given in addressing the national emergency declared in [Trump’s] Executive Order 13873 of May 15, 2019, including the threat posed by certain connected software applications designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary,” Biden wrote in a letter to Congress explaining his executive order.

Trump last August issued an executive order mandating the ban unless TikTok sold its U.S. operations. An acquisition deal involving chip maker Oracle and Walmart for 20% in a newly configured ByteDance parent remains in the works, but has not been finalized.

A federal judge last September issued a preliminary injunction stopping Trump’s proposed ban that would have effectively stopped 100 million Americans who use TikTok for social messaging and commercial influencing.

The move wasn’t unprecedented considering China blocks its citizens from using American apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.

Regardless, the political posturing between the U.S. and China over TikTok saw its CEO Kevin Mayer, the former Disney executive who help launch Disney+, exit the company. Mayer was also COO of TikTok parent ByteDance.

In March, Mayer was named chairman of the DAZN sports-themed subscription streaming service.