The record-setting Japanese film faces competition from three new films, both domestic and Hollywood.
Your Name, the body-swapping romantic anime from Japan, swept into China last weekend behind a wave of enthusiastic buzz following its historic homegrown box office run and grossed RMB 287 million (US$41.6 million) through its first three days in cinemas.
The debut was not only the best start for a Japanese film in China, it was the biggest opening ever for a non-local or non-Hollywood film.
Despite the impressive haul and belying its solid ratings on Chinese websites (Douban – 8.7/10, Maoyan – 9.3/10), Your Name has somewhat faltered in its first full week of release, unable to steady its weekday totals. The film slipped from RMB 31.4 million ($4.6 million) on Monday to RMB 17.2 million ($2.5 million) on Thursday, averaging daily drops of 15 percent. Movies that can’t sustain stable daily numbers throughout the first week of release are often victims of heavy front-loading and this could be a sign that Your Name has already exhausted its fan base on opening weekend.
This leaves the door open for this weekend’s new wide releases — Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Clint Eastwood’s Sully, and Zhang Mo’s Suddenly Seventeen — to grab more screens than previously expected. Yet even with a predicted drop of around 60 percent this weekend, Your Name should pull out a second straight weekend victory with $17-19 million.
Hacksaw Ridge (血战钢锯岭)
China Distribution – Bliss Media (熙颐影业)
US Distribution – Summit Entertainment
Based on the true story of a young medical officer trying to hold onto his pacifist ideals during World War II, Hacksaw Ridge saw both commercial ($58.0 million to date) and critical success (87 percent Fresh on RottenTomatoes) when it released in North America in early November.
The film, set against the backdrop of the Battle of Okinawa, tackles history that Chinese audiences are very familiar with and should be more relatable than Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk that was centered around a conflict far removed from most Chinese minds. The addition of the characters 血战 (pinyin xuèzhàn, “bloody battle”) in Hacksaw Ridge’s Chinese title should also pull in curious moviegoers.
Hacksaw Ridge unexpectedly bested Your Name on Thursday in China, debuting with RMB 17.55 million ($2.55 million), and while we don’t expect it to win the weekend, the film could be headed for a final tally close to RMB 100 million ($14.5 million).
China Distribution – China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
US Distribution – Warner Bros. Pictures
Director Clint Eastwood’s Sully follows commercial air pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) in the aftermath of their “Miracle on the Hudson” in which Sully glided his US Airways flight to a safe landing on New York City’s Hudson River.
The story made headlines in China, but not to the same effect as in the United States, where post-September 11, Americans — in particular New York City residents — rallied around Sully’s heroics and the emergency responders’ quick actions. Eight years later, the incident has faded from the collective Chinese memory, and so perhaps the film’s only real draw for Chinese moviegoers now will be the re-creation of an air disaster and the inclusion of Tom Hanks.
Sully’s three-month delay from its North American release will also hurt its China box office potential as an HD copy appeared up on download sites last week. We’re predicting a weekend total of RMB 38 million ($5.5 million) and a total run of RMB 60 million ($9 million).
Suddenly Seventeen (28岁未成年)
China Distribution – Le Vision Pictures (乐视影业有限公司)
Originally set for release last weekend against Your Name which targets a similar demographic, distributor Le Vision Pictures wisely delayed Suddenly Seventeen one week.
First time director Zhang Mo — daughter of Zhang Yimou, whose The Great Wall opens next weekend — adapts an internet novel about a young woman on the brink of marriage who becomes embodied by her 17-year old self. The well-worn, body-swapping trope found success in China last year with Miss Granny ($59 million), but that film had boy toy Lu Han to pull in his legion of fans. Actress Ni Ni (Flowers of War) doesn’t hold that kind of box office draw. Still, expect Suddenly Seventeen to finish first among this weekend’s new releases with RMB 70 million ($10 million) and RMB 140 million ($20 million) total.