The summer movie season is in full swing, and audiences continue to prove that there is plenty of space at the cinema for more animated features.
In the world’s three biggest box office markets – China, North America, and Japan – animated films are posting impressive debuts and strong legs.
The Boy and the Heron
Hayao Miyazaki’s latest and perhaps last animated feature The Boy and the Heron, previously referred to as How Do You Live?, made 1.83 billion yen ($13.2 million) during its first weekend in Japanese theaters. In yen, that’s the largest opening in Ghibli history, ahead of Howl’s Moving Castle (1.48 billion yen). In USD terms, due to the unpredictability of exchange rates, Howl’s debut was slightly better at $14M.
The Boy and the Heron also set a new Japanese three-day IMAX opening weekend record – live action or animation – with 236 million yen ($1.7M) from 44 screens.
The film’s Japanese box office haul was enough to land The Boy and the Heron at number nine at the global box office over the weekend. It’s an impressive return for a film that famously received no promotion, no press screenings, and no trailers ahead of its release. Ghibli didn’t even publish a synopsis for the film ahead of the debut, meaning that audiences were able to go in blind and enjoy the film with no idea what to expect.
No specific U.S. release date has been announced for The Boy and the Heron, but last week GKIDS announced it had acquired North American distribution rights for the film and will be debuting it stateside sometime this year.
Despite debuting with Pixar’s second-worst box office opening weekend, Peter Sohn’s Elemental is proving the comeback title of the summer. Domestically, the film raked in another $8.7M in its fifth weekend for a lifetime cume of $125.2M, which ranks it ahead of both Lightyear ($118.3M) and The Good Dinosaur ($123M).
Internationally, Elemental grossed another $28.2M over the weekend for a $36.9M global tally. The film has now grossed $311.7M in total, burning past the lifetime gross of Lightyear ($226.4M) and pushing it closer to The Good Dinosaur ($332.2M).
With little kids and family competition on the horizon, the film could continue to hold strong through the rest of the month and into August, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it gets close to $400M before all is said and done.
The animated historical epic Chang An finished in second place at the Chinese box office with a massive $43.8M weekend, good for second in the territory and third worldwide. The film has now grossed $94.9M over its first nine days in cinemas.
Set during the Tang Dynasty, the film mixes myth and history in an action epic that is billed as the first in a series of New Culture films based on Chinese history that producer Light Chaser Animation is working on. It’s also touted as one of the longest-ever Chinese animated films at 168 minutes.
Another Chinese film, em>Oh My School!, a feature-length adaptation of a local animated series, cracked the global top ten over the weekend. The film’s $12.8M cume was enough for fifth place in China and 10th globally. Directed by Xia Mingze and Yan Kai, Oh My School! is a body-swapping comedy about a strict teacher and troublesome student forced to walk a mile in each other’s shoes.
Other Box Office News
Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse had another strong weekend domestically, grossing $6M in its seventh week. The film’s total domestic box office now sits at $368.8, nearly doubling the original’s $190.2M domestic. Across the Spider-Verse’s total global cume now sits at $663.5 million.
Unlike Elemental, Dreamworks’ Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken hasn’t mounted any type of comeback after a historically bad opening and only pulled in $1M during its third week in North American theaters. Its domestic total now sits at $14.4M and its global haul at $34.2M to date.
Pictured at top: The Boy and the Heron, Elemental, Chang An
All box office figures are estimates and come from Box Office Mojo, Comscore, and The Japan Times.