Japanese import brushes Hollywood newbies and local competitors aside.
As predicted, Japanese anime Your Name scored its second straight weekend victory at the Chinese box office, grossing RMB 106.6 million (US$15.4 million) and sending its 10-day total to an impressive RMB 492 million ($71.2 million).
Sometime next weekend, Your Name will become the highest-grossing Japanese film ever in China, surpassing Stand By Me Doraemon (RMB 530 million).
The biggest surprise this weekend, however, was director Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, which defied all pre-release expectations. The World War II biopic of pacifist medic Desmond Doss earned RMB 100 million for a close second-place finish. In a territory where Mel Gibson bears no public relations baggage, Hacksaw Ridge’s four-day debut of RMB 118 million ($17.1 million) outpaced North America’s three-day opening in early November by 13 percent.
Online ratings for Hacksaw Ridge soared to some of the highest this year for any film, Hollywood or local. Douban’s 8.8/10 from 46,000 ratings is second only to Disney’s Zootopia.
The film, distributed as an imported “buy-out” film from local distributor Yoozoo Pictures, found its audience mainly in young males, who accounted for 70 percent of all tickets sold this weekend, and many commented online that the realistic war scenes were what fired them up most. The backdrop of the Battle of Okinawa, an episode familiar to many Chinese through hundreds of hours of anti-Japanese television serials, also contributed to Hacksaw Ridge’s opening weekend coup.
Following well behind in third and fourth place this weekend were two additional new releases. The body-swapping rom-com, Suddenly Seventeen (28岁未成年), directed by Zhang Yimou’s daughter Zhang Mo, debuted with RMB 74 million ($10.8 million). And Sully, the Clint Eastwood-directed biopic following “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, failed to liftoff, earning just RMB 38 million ($5.5 million), a second consecutive whiff for Tom Hanks in China, after Inferno earlier this year.
Rounding out the top five, holdover Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them tumbled another 66 percent on its third weekend of release. The Harry Potter spinoff took in RMB 36 million ($5.2 million) for a 17-day total of RMB 569 million ($82.4 million). Fantastic Beasts has already outgrossed all eight previous installments in the Harry Potter film series in China.
Looking ahead to next weekend, Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall starring Matt Damon and Andy Lau will command a huge number of screens when it opens at 6 pm on Thursday, December 15, poising it to squeeze out most of the competition by brute force. CFI will have a complete box office preview on Thursday.