yourname_china yourname_china
Box Office ReportDisney

Chinese Embrace Makoto Shinkai’s ‘Your Name,’ Reject ‘Moana’

Chinese filmgoers drove Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name to a record-breaking debut weekend of $41 million.

Your Name’s big China numbers shattered a few records for the Comix Wave-produced film, which is already a smash-hit in its native Japan where it recently became the second-highest-grossing Japanese-produced feature of all-time, behind only Spirited Away. First, it’s the biggest-debut ever posted by an anime title in China, edging out the $38.5 million launch of Stand by Me Doraemon in 2015. Second, it’s the biggest launch for a hand-drawn animated film in China, breaking the $34.2 million opening weekend of the locally-produced mostly-drawn Big Fish & Begonia, which also opened this year.

Meanwhile, Disney’s Moana slipped 55% in its second Chinese frame, picking up $5.8 million. The film has earned just $21.8m to date in China. By contrast, Zootopia launched in China with $23.6m, followed by an amazing $59.4m second weekend, and ultimately earning $235.6m.

The success of Shinkai’s film in China, currently the world’s second-largest film market after the United States, is proof that Chinese audiences can handle sophisticated content in animated films, not to mention that they are open to more animation techniques than just cgi. Patrick Ramsey, director of Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians, pointed out on Twitter how the opening of Your Name runs counter to Hollywood’s strategy of exporting brainless action films around the globe:

Funimation has picked up the North American distribution rights to Your Name and is gunning for its first Oscar nomination. Your Name is screening through next Thursday at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills, California, as part of the Oscar-qualification process. It is competing against 26 other animated features for a nomination.

Funimation will release Your Name in the U.S. in early 2017. It’s slated as a limited theatrical release, but no further details on dates or theater counts have been provided.

  • Dman

    Does this sight have something against Moana or…?
    I agree that the film isn’t doing great in China but I feel this sight does nothing but criticize it.

    • G Yarley

      Agreed. Really not impressed with the byline for this piece. Very strange way of writing. China audiences just don’t connect to Moana for whatever reason. Lin-Manuel has nothing to do with it.

    • Capital_7


    • KW

      I dont see that

  • otterhead

    I believe the brainless, stupid, middle-school-level Transformer movies are the biggest films in Chinese history, so much so that they adapted them to cater to the Chinese market, so I don’t know if sophistication is the #1 criteria for their movies there. There are dozens of reasons Moana isn’t playing as huge there as they’d like — possibly there isn’t the market for Polynesian-themed movies, or oversaturation of CG.

  • ea

    I wonder what reception this movie will have in the west by general audiences. Will it lead to a return to 2D and more complex stories in animated features?

    • otterhead

      It’s an intensely Japanese-centric movie specifically made for Japanese audiences, so while I’m sure it’ll get its fans here in America (hey, I adore “Only Yesterday”, which is as Japan-centric as you can get), I doubt it’ll do very well here outside of limited engagements.

  • Dream High Animation

    coz it’s a master piece that what

  • Mark

    I am sure that Moana is not successful because islanders are the bottom rung of the Asian race ladder.

    • Elsi Pote

      We have a winner here!

      • Netko

        Don’t you know it’s not politically correct to talk about non-whites being racist?

  • Elsi Pote

    Well if the Chinese are willing to support a Japanese story, you know it has to be something very good. Else ask the hordes of Chinese buying ricer cookers in Japan.

    In a nutshell the Chinese reject the Disney reality and substitute with their own (or kinda similar) experiences through storytelling.

    • Mermaid Warrior

      Still, the popularity of Your Name doesn’t explain why Moana did so poorly in its first week.

    • Netko

      “In a nutshell the Chinese reject the Disney reality and substitute with their own (or kinda similar) experiences through storytelling.”
      Funny, in the US the unwillingness to consider stories set in other cultures with non-white races is called racism.
      By the way, anime is very popular in China. There’s nothing unusual about an anime being successful there.

  • Steven Bowser

    I don’t know much about Your Name, but the way this article paints it makes me more excited to see it. Is it set to come to the US or did that already happen?

    Also, I wonder why Moana struggled a little more. Maybe the subject matter or genre isn’t appealing to Chinese audiences in general? Either way, I thought Moana was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it a lot.

    • Mermaid Warrior

      I’m curious as well. Maybe Polynesian stuff doesn’t have a lot of appeal in China?

      • Netko

        And it does in the US and Europe? Since when?

  • Strong Enough

    and you wonder why hollywood doesnt put non whites in leads most of the time.

  • KW

    Maybe this is looking too much into things and just going to cause issue where there is none but I cant help but wonder how race plays into the success of Moana in China. We think we have race problems here in America but China is a largely homogeneous society with the majority of its residents being of Asian lineage. People of color there arent the preference. Hell, a lot of Asian countries have large markets for skin whitening creams (i’ve done animations for some of those adverts).
    Basically what im wondering is did Moana not do as well because the main characters are dark skinned and that was enough to turn away Chinese audiences.