EXCLUSIVE: Arclight Films’ period action film Outcast, starring Nicolas Cage, was pulled from Chinese theatrical release last night, just hours before its midnight previews.

It remains unclear why the film, an official China-Canada-France co-production, has been halted. It was due to open wide today (September 26) ahead of the National Day Holidays, a key box office period in China.

The film’s Chinese distributor and co-production partner, Yunnan Film Group, informed Arclight late last night that the film would have to be postponed for reasons that the company couldn’t share at that moment. Arclight is handling international sales and has sold the film worldwide.

“We are completely baffled – as far as we understood, the film had been cleared by China’s censors for release,” said Ying Ye, head of Arclight’s Asian label Easternlight Films. “The film was so well received by all buyers who acquired it and even created a bidding war among US buyers. We are very frustrated that we were not informed.”

“We’re still trying to get to the bottom of this – we’re in damage control on all fronts because the rest of the Asian distributors were confident and planning to go day-and-date with China. We don’t how this will affect their strategy and piracy,” said executive producer Mike Gabrawy, who is in Beijing for the opening.

The film is scheduled to open in Malaysia today (Sep 26) and Vietnam and Singapore tomorrow. The distributors in Vietnam and Singapore are considering postponing the release for two weeks.

The directing debut of UK stunt coordinator Nick Powell, Outcast is co-produced by China’s Yunnan Film Group, Canada’s Mediabiz International and France’s 22h22. Arclight’s Ying Ye and Gary Hamilton also have producer credits and Jeremy Bolt served as creative producer. The film also stars Hayden Christensen and Chinese actress Liu Yifei.

Yunnan Film Group previously backed Arclight’s hit shark attack thriller Bait 3D.