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Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed II

Creed II is about to boldly go where no Rocky franchise film has gone before: China.

Yep, the Creed sequel got a release date of January 4, 2019 in China. That's the first theatrical release in mainland China for any film in the eight-picture franchise to date.

Creed II only recently passed the $100 million box office milestone on the domestic front. It has only made about $27 million at the foreign box office at this point, from about a dozen international markets. But China isn't just any market, it's the second-biggest market in the world after the North American domestic box office. If China is into a movie, it goes BOOM like Venom or Aquaman. If China does not like the movie, it disappears like Crazy Rich Asians.

It's not like the people of China have had no access to Rocky films in the past, since they are available via video streaming, Variety reports. But this will be a true test of the franchise on the big screen in what is expected to soon be the #1 box office market in the world. Impressing China has become increasingly important for a franchise's future.

We don't actually know yet what future Creed has beyond this movie. Michael B. Jordan (Adonis Creed) said he'd love to see the characters live on from film to film. Creed II director Steven Caple Jr. said he could envision a potential Creed III, whether Adonis was the lead character or not.

For his part, Sylvester Stallone made it pretty clear he's done as Rocky Balboa after Creed II. That said, if the movie breaks the bank in China, you have to imagine that would start new conversations. No one is expecting wow numbers, but who can say they saw Venom making $270 million so far in China alone?

Creed II is not a superhero movie like Venom or Aquaman, but it's a good sign that theaters are interested enough to pick it up as one of the first offerings of the new year. With this boost, it's possible Creed II will be able to pass the $173.5 million worldwide gross of the first Creed. That's from roughly $110M domestic and $64M foreign.

Sylvester Stallone started Rocky more than 40 years ago in 1976. The franchise continued with Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), and Rocky Balboa (2006), before launching the modern spinoffs Creed (2015) and Creed II (2018). Where might the franchise go from here? We wait and see.

Creed II was released in the U.S. on November 21, 2018. This year's film schedule is winding down, but there's so much to look forward to in 2019. In the meantime, we should all keep one eye on the Chinese box office to see if the Creed sequel will be a hit ... or the next one knocked out.

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