China Box Office: ‘Zootopia’ Is Setting Animation Records in China

  • Walt Disney Animation’s latest just had the biggest days for an animation on record in China
  • Ip Man 3 plummeted 81% following box-office fraud allegations
  • Gods of Egypt sees China as its best debut territory with savvy marketing
A cosplayer dressed as a character from 'Zootopia' at a special screening for Gods of Egypt in Beijing (Courtesy Gods of Egypt official Weibo)

A cosplayer dressed as a character from Zootopia at a special screening for Gods of Egypt in Beijing (Courtesy Gods of Egypt official Weibo)

Walt Disney Animation’s Zootopia (疯狂动物城) — bolstered by incredible word of mouth and a 9.4/10 Douban rating, the highest ever for any animated film  — trampled the competition this weekend, pulling in a staggering RMB 386 million ($57.9 million) from Friday to Sunday.

Zootopia’s second weekend result was 2.5 times its opening weekend gross and far exceeded CFI’s lofty prediction of an 80%-100% bump thanks to all the positive buzz seeping down into China’s all-important third- and fourth-tier cities.  Box office revenue for both Saturday and Sunday were the two biggest single days for an animation on record in China.

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The animation’s 10-day total now stands at RMB 732 million ($112.6 million) according to Shanghai entertainment research firm Artisan Gateway, which will keep it on pace to fly past Kung Fu Panda 3 ($150 million) as the highest-grossing animation of all time in China.

Moreover, Zootopia will be the first breakout Hollywood hit since last summer’s Jurassic World earned $228.7 million, providing a much-needed ray of hope for U.S. imports, whose market share dipped to just 14% in the first two months of 2016.

While Zootopia soared in its second weekend, last weekend’s “disputed” champion Ip Man 3 (叶问3) faltered due to both piracy and a return to market normalcy following alleged ticketing fraud that would have inflated opening weekend numbers.  Ticket sales for the martial arts flick stalled at just RMB 88 million ($13.5 million), plummeting 81% from its 3-day tally the previous week. The sequel, directed by Wilson Yip and starring A-list action star Donnie Yen, has earned $111.9 million in 10 days of release.

Ip Man 3 distributor Dayinmu (aka Beijing Max Screen) issued a statement on Friday through its official Weibo account condemning the release of an unauthorized HD copy  making the rounds on several Chinese file-sharing sites and calling for the relevant public security authorities to investigate the matter . The statement failed to address Dayinmu’s involvement in the alleged box office manipulation scheme.

Along with Zootopia, this weekend’s other big winner was Gods of Egypt, which earned an impressive $20 million. The three-day result outpaced North America’s debut by 42% and was buoyed by positive word of mouth amongst China’s ACGN (Anime, Comic, Gaming, and Novel) subculture.

Le Vision Pictures acquired Gods of Egypt in November 2015 and smartly targeted several well-known Chinese cosplayers who are influential among the fans of this growing movement around the country.

On Sunday, Le Vision held a large scale cosplay event in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, where Gods of Egypt was screened to more 300 members of the ACGN subculture. After the screening, one attendee said, “some of the critics really got it wrong this time. Gods of Egypt is no less worth seeing than Zootopia. I want to see it again!”

Interestingly, another influential cosplayer at the event was dressed as Judy, the main character from Zootopia.

—Follow Jonathan Papish on Twitter @ChinaBoxOffice