You can’t watch every Marvel movie on China’s top streaming platform anymore
iQiyi subscribers wanted to rewatch MCU films after Avengers: Endgame
It’s the start of a five-day long holiday and you just watched Avengers: Endgame. Wouldn’t it be great to have a marathon of every Marvel movie? Well, too bad for Chinese fans who signed up for the wrong streaming platform.
Subscribers of iQiyi recently discovered that Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Captain America and some other Marvel blockbusters have been missing from the site since May 1, the start of the Labor Day Golden Week holiday. Instead, viewers are redirected to rival Tencent Video.
Some fans are understandably furious that they’ll now need to pay for another service.
“I just started rewatching Age of Ultron for the fifth time and had to finish the ending. Was planning to continue this morning… suddenly it was taken down,” wrote one person on Weibo.
“I renewed my iQiyi membership just to watch [the Marvel series],” bemoaned another user.
In the US, Disney -- owner of Marvel Entertainment -- is set to launch its own streaming service later this year. In the run-up to the launch of Disney+, the company is running out its contracts with other platforms like Netflix. In China, though, most American shows and films are licensed to iQiyi, Tencent Video and Youku -- popular streaming platforms backed by Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba respectively.
(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba.)
Tencent Video, for example, already has a deal with HBO to distribute Game of Thrones, which is huge in China right now. Disney movies and shows, meanwhile, are shown on all the top three Chinese platforms.
But these partnerships don’t always work out. iQiyi’s CEO told The Hollywood Reporter in March that it’s ending the partnership with Netflix that was struck two years ago, citing difficulties in getting approvals from Chinese government censors.
On the other hand, China has largely embraced Marvel films. Endgame, which premiered in the country last Wednesday, has already beaten a number of box office records. The movie has been trending on Weibo for days as fans obsessed over anything from Captain America’s ass to a subtle post-credits moment.
So it’s perhaps no surprise that Tencent is boasting about its Marvel portfolio.
“Has the power of Thanos spread here? Turn on your computer and go to Tencent’s movie channel to check out Thanos’ finger snapping Easter egg,” wrote Tencent Video on its official Weibo account. “All your troubles are gone this May.”
Unless you’re an iQiyi subscriber.