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:
A film this complex doing that well In China should make US studios reconsider the 'dumb it down' int'l box office strategy (it won't, tho). https://t.co/hjqYo34deF
— Peter Ramsey (@pramsey342) December 4, 2016
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.