Fantasy pic A Chinese Odyssey Part 3 crosses US$50 million, repeats in 1st place this weekend.
Daily box office total unable to break RMB 100 million ($15 million) for seven straight days.
Anemic September ’16 box office in danger of falling RMB 1 billion ($150 million) behind September ’15.
Holdovers from last week’s Mid-Autumn Festival retained their grasp on China’s box office this weekend, clipping the wings of Warner Bros’ day-and-date animation Storks (逗鸟外传：萌宝满天飞).
Weekly ticket sales from Monday, September 19 to Sunday, September 25 continued to flounder as the daily box office failed to hit even RMB 100 million ($15 million) on seven consecutive days.
Through September 25, the monthly box office total stands at just RMB 1.909 billion ($286 million), and barring a miraculous recovery in the next few days, will fall more than RMB 1 billion ($150 million) behind September 2015’s performance. The substantial monthly drop in ticket sales signals growing stagnation in what has already been a woeful year at the Chinese box office.
The week before China’s weeklong National Day holiday — this year from October 1 through October 7 — is typically a dumping ground for middling fare in which distributors have little confidence in their films’ box office potential. This year two imported animations — Hollywood’s Storks and Japan’s Chibi Maruko-chan: A Boy From Italy (樱桃小丸子：来自意大利的少年) — braved those choppy waters with little effect.
Storks, based on the Western child-delivering myth that has no basis or recognition in China, unsurprisingly failed to gain much traction with Chinese filmgoers and debuted with just RMB 34.8 million ($5.3 million).
With next to nothing spent on localized marketing, Warner Bros’ decision to release their film day-and-date raises eyebrows, and the studio will now have to rely on positive word of mouth to carry it through next weekend’s onslaught of National Day releases.
Faring even worse, A Boy From Italy earned RMB 19 million ($2.8 million) over the weekend. Based on a popular manga series which spawned an anime that aired on Chinese televisions in the early 90s, the film struggled to find an audience; families were drawn to Storks instead and thirty-somethings who grew up with the TV series now have more mature tastes.
In May 2015, cultural relations between China and Japan eased with the release of Doraemon Stand By Me, an animation that struck a nostalgic chord with Chinese moviegoers and went on to gross $85 million. Since then Chinese distributors have snapped up the rights to several anime adaptations, but none have come close to replicating Doraemon’s success.