In took just a little over two weeks for Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name to beocome the highest-grossing Japanese film ever released in China.
Your Name’s Chinese gross-to-date of about US$78 million is second only to the film’s box office of $180+ million in its native Japan. The record, previously held by Stand By Me Doraemon, has prompted articles by pundits trying to explain the film’s popularity in China. Its success is especially striking against the backdrop of the rocky relationship between China and Japan, as explained by Japan Today:
When [Stand By Me Doraemon] arrived at theaters in May 2015, it was the first Japanese motion picture to go on general release in China since July 2012. China shut out Japanese films in 2013 and 2014, during which time diplomatic ties between the two countries were at their lowest ebb in decades due to disputes over wartime issues and the sovereignty of a group of small islands in the East China Sea.
In 2015, there were only two Japanese films distributed nationwide. But this year, possibly reflecting China’s strong desire to improve public sentiment toward Japan, the number of Japanese films allowed to be shown in Chinese theaters jumped to 11, including Shinkai’s animation.
Globally, Your Name has now grossed $276 million, putting it within striking distance of the $289.1 million global total of Spirited Away. Shinkai’s film will open in France on December 28, and in South Korea on January 4, with a yet-to-be-announced U.S. release date by Funimation in 2017.
It’s difficult to find data on the highest-earning Japanese films in terms of global gross, but I haven’t found anything higher than Spirited Away’s $289m total. If that is indeed the highest-grossing global release, then Your Name could soon become the highest-grossing Japanese film of all-time (Spirited Away would still remain No. 1 in Japan since it made the bulk of its money at home).