‘Skyfall’ Will Open Jan. 21 in China, Won’t Face ‘Hobbit’

Sony's "Skyfall" gets a release date that will be critical to its bid for $1B at box office

Global blockbuster “Skyfall” will open on Jan. 21 in China, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TheWrap Friday.

A strong run in China will be critical if "Skyfall" is to hit $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

The date means that Sony and MGM's newest 007 film will likely roll out ahead of Warner Bros.' Middle-earth epic "The Hobbit," which is expected to open in February, after China’s Feb. 9 Golden Week holidays are under way.

Chinese officials have aggressively protected their domestic film industry this year, in some case by slotting major U.S. films against each other to reduce their box-office impact.

Also read: James Bond Still Can't Get a Date in China – at the Box Office

The studios had been waiting for confirmation from on a release date since opening the 23rd James Bond thriller in the U.K. on Oct. 26.

The two studios had been in a similar situation with two box-office hits earlier this year, when “Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” both opened on Aug. 27. That cut their grosses, but China still became the No. 1 foreign market for both films, with “Dark Knight Rises” taking in $52 million for Warner Bros. and “Spider-Man” taking in $48 million for Sony.

“Skyfall,” which stars Daniel Craig, has a good shot at becoming the first Bond movie to hit the billion-dollar mark at the box office. But it will need strong performances in China and Japan — where it has taken in more than $16.7 million since opening three weeks ago — to get there.

The film has made more at the box office than any of the 22 previous James Bond films, with $953 million globally since opening on Oct. 26. The majority of that — $678 million — has come from overseas. The top market is the U.K., where “Skyfall” is that country’s biggest movie ever with more than $158 million.