The controversy swirling around actress Fan Bingbing amid a tax evasion scandal and disappearance drama has forced the cancellation of her movie Air Strike, co-starring Bruce Willis and Adrien Brody. The WW2 thriller was set to be released in China on October 24th, 2018.
A huge star in China, Fan Bingbing is best known to American audiences for her performance as Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past. In June, reports emerged that the actress was facing tax evasion charges in her native country, leading to her disappearance from the public eye. Rumors began circulating that the Chinese Communist Party was actually responsible for the actress' mysterious vanishing act, but she later turned up in video taken at the Beijing airport (via CNN), showing her apparently attempting to travel incognito. The actress has since issued a public apology, saying she has "endured an unprecedented amount of pain, undergoing deep self-reflection and introspection." She reportedly faces a large fine after conviction on tax charges.
Amid all the strange reports concerning Fan Bingbing's fate, the director of the actress' new movie Air Strike say that the film's Chinese premiere has been canceled (via USA Today). Xiao Feng made the announcement on Weibo Wednesday, saying it was "time to let go" of the project after eight years of work. However, as reported by Deadline, plans to release the movie in America are still on despite the decision to scrap the movie's release in China. Lionsgate has American distribution rights.
Headed up by American stars Bruce Willis and Adrien Brody, Air Strike follows a group of Chinese refugees and spies during WW2 as they dodge Japanese air attacks in order to protect a vital decoder device. The presence in Air Strike of Western stars like Willis and Brody keeps up a current trend of Hollywood actors going to China to collect big pay-days for appearing in major films. Matt Damon of course made headlines last year when he starred in the epic The Great Wall, which went on to gross $334 million worldwide, a total that still reportedly left it $75 million in the red.
The decision to cancel Air Strike's Chinese release will obviously be a major blow to the film's box office prospects. The movie had recently come under fire in China after accusations that the movie's budget was artificially inflated, only adding to the controversy surrounding the film. Clearly, the heat became too much for the movie's producers so they decided not to go ahead with a release in China. Multiple other Fan Bingbing projects are reportedly also up-in-the-air as the actress continues to face legal repercussions related to the tax evasion charges leveled against her. She was recently announced as a cast member in Jessica Chastain's all-female spy drama 355, co-starring Lupita Nyong'o.