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Liam Neeson’s ‘Honest Thief’ Sets China Streaming Release



Liam Neeson-starring “Honest Thief” has secured a multi-platform streaming release in mainland China. It launches on SVOD platforms on Christmas Day (Dec. 25).

The release is handled by independent aggregator Leeding Media, in partnership with major Chinese streaming platforms Tencent, Alibaba-owned Youku, Baidu-owned iQiyi and specialty short video and entertainment platform Bilibili.

In “Honest Thief” Neeson stars as Tom Dolan, a legendary bank robber who tries to turn himself in after falling for a woman (Kate Walsh) who works at the storage facility where he’s stashed his money. Complications ensue when his case is turned over to a corrupt FBI agent (Jai Courtney) and he must go underground to save himself and the woman he loves.

Hollywood and U.S. independent films became scarce in China during the COVID pandemic. This year Hollywood has returned to Chinese cinemas, but difficulties remain and box office results have been weak.

Leeding Media’s long journey to bring “Honest Thief” to Chinese streaming , more than three years after the film’s October 2020 release in U.S. theaters, illustrates the continuing headwinds.

The company considered the picture to be a smart, action-packed heist movie full of twists that would be easily accessible to Chinese audiences It began negotiations in summer 2021. But as bilateral U.S.-China relations deteriorated, it more than two years to secure an online release permit.

“We continue to experience strong headwinds in securing online releases for Western content” said Leeding Media CEO and founder, David U. Lee. “We are hopeful that improving relations between the two countries will lead to a smoother permitting process.”

Having obtained the permit last month, Lee scrambled to secure the date and a non-exclusive release across otherwise competing platforms. “Nowadays releases don’t come easy. The key is working closely with trusted partners.”

Leeding Media becomes an “in association with” credited production partner company on the film, along with sales agent Solution Entertainment Group in China. And Lee serves as an executive producer.

The company will also release four library titles on major streaming platform Tencent. They include Russo Brothers-directed comedy “Welcome to Collinwood,” mystery-comedy musical “The Singing Detective,” and prestige women’s drama “White Oleander.”

Created in 2007, Leeding Media and its partners have also distributed feature films theatrically in China, including “Divergent,” “Insurgent,” “Allegiant,” “Rush,” “The Last Stand,” “Ender’s Game,” and “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”

Its online releases include “Breach,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Underworld,” “Locke,” “Law Abiding Citizen” and “3:10 To Yuma.


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