Variety is reporting that weekend tweets by its own reporter Justin Kroll has created a sensation in China.
Kroll tweeted Sunday that Marvel Studios is "putting out test offers for a group of men in their 20s" for roles in Shang-Chi, adding that the studio has "been adamant to reps offering up their clients for the role that they have to be of Chinese ancestry no other Asian ancestry excepted [sic]."
With comic-con closing in, hearing Marvel is putting out test offers for a group of men in their 20s for its SHANG-CHI movie. Marvel have also been adamant to reps offering up their clients for the role that they have to be of Chinese ancestry no other Asian ancestry excepted.— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) July 13, 2019
While Twitter is blocked on China's state-censored internet, Variety is reporting the tweets went viral in the country anyway, with users screen-grabbing it and posting it on China's similar Weibo platform. The hashtags "Shang-Chi casting" and "Marvel’s first Chinese hero" have reportedly been viewed 100 and 590 million times, respectively, and the story has been picked up by major entertainment media venues, with much of the chatter focused on casting suggestions. 37-year-old actor Eddie Peng is reportedly the "clear favorite" for the lead role of Shang-Chi among the Chinese media and social media users.
The China market continues to grow for Marvel Studios and Disney, with Avengers: Endgame totaling $614m there, the country's third highest grossing film of all-time and the highest grossing foreign film of all-time.
Currently Spider-Man: Far From Home has grossed an estimated $166m in China, a sharp increase from the $116m million Homecoming grossed two years ago.
Marvel Studios has hired Destin Daniel Cretton to direct Shang-Chi, with a script from David Callaham. Callaham is of Chinese descent, while Cretton has Japanese ancestry.
Shang-Chi's potential appeal in China may been part of Marvel Studios strategy from the earliest stages. To remind readers the property was one of the original 10 comic book properties Marvel Entertainment put up as collateral to fund what would become Marvel Studios, giving birth to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.