Slam Dunk, Suzume Slam Dunk, Suzume

Mario may be ruling most of the world, but in China, he’s getting dunked on by the Japanese hit film The First Slam Dunk, which just opened with a $13.93 million first day and is staring down a historic opening weekend.

Toei Animation’s The First Slam Duck technically tipped off on Wednesday evening pulling in $3.16 million from preview screenings. On Thursday, its first full day in Chinese theaters, the film grossed another $13.9 million, putting its cumulative gross at $17.09 million with the full weekend ahead of it.

The Last Slam Dunk is adapted from Takehiko Inoue’s eponymous manga and was written and directed by Inoue himself. The film was a box office hit in Japan when it was released there in December of last year and has grossed $98.7 since. It was a major factor in its producer Toei finishing 2022 with its best-ever Japanese box office total. The film also performed well in South Korea, making another $35 million since debuting there on January 4.

A huge Chinese opening weekend for The First Slam Dunk continues a trend of big-name Japanese animated features topping the Chinese box office. Last month, Makoto Shinkai’s Suzume debuted did just that with a $50.7 million opening weekend. The film hasn’t left the top five since and has accumulated $112.53 million in China so far, making it just the second Japanese animated film ever to gross more in China than it did in Japan. The first was 2014’s Stand By Me Doraemon.

Cartoon Brew’s Take: As China opens the doors to more foreign films, anime could be one of the saving graces for exhibitors who have been suffering under strict government censorship and embargoes of many imported movies. Hollywood has been sending some of its high-profile films to China, but for the most part, they’ve not enjoyed success on par with Japan’s biggest animated titles. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish only made $6.8 million in China and Mario is sitting at $18.08 million after two-and-a-half weeks. The Last Slam Dunk will gross more in its first two days.

Box office figures are estimates and were taken from Ent Group and Box Office Mojo.

Pictured at top: The First Slam Dunk, Suzume

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