- Fans rated Jungle Book 8/10 on Douban, short of the 9.3/10 they gave Zootopia
- Disney has likely back-to-back billion-yuan films in China with Zootopia and Jungle Book
- Moviegoers clapped for the effects but some viewed the storyline as childish
A Chinese poster for the 3D IMAX version of The Jungle Book (Credit: MTime)
Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book (奇幻森林) opened to gross ticket sales of RMB 318 million ($49.2 million) over the weekend, wowing Chinese moviegoers with stunning visual effects.
The three-day debut was the second largest for a family oriented film after DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 grossed RMB 336 million ($52 million) in late-January. The Jungle drum is beating and has set Disney up for its second straight film after Zootopia likely to gross RMB 1 billion in China.
The strong China debut mirrored the global reception for the live-action-plus-CGI remake of Disney’s classic 1967 animated film; The Jungle Book already has earned nearly $300 million from 50 territories worldwide in just two weeks in theaters, causing many in the industry to believe it could become the first film of 2016 to top $1 billion worldwide.
As predicted by CFI, the film’s explosive weekend was fueled by positive word of mouth centered around The Jungle Book’s gorgeously rendered visuals.
Ratings on fan review site Douban soared to 8.0/10, falling well short of Zootopia’s unprecedented 9.3/10, but still surpassing 82% of other fantasy/adventure films.
The difference in ratings can be attributed mainly to The Jungle Book storyline, which many Chinese filmgoers found derivative and too simplistic when compared with the layered, adult-leaning narrative in Zootopia.
“It’s hard to imagine that apart from the small boy, all of the lifelike animals were accomplished through the use of CGI! (PS. I really loved the bear, it’s a pity Leo didn’t meet him in The Revenant…)” — Shanshui Yanhua (山水烟花), April 12, 2016
“The special effects made my hairs stand on end, but the story was childish.” — Wubai Wuzhe (五摆五折), April 15, 2016
“Chinese performers can’t even act as well as the animals in The Jungle Book.” — Ting Tai Shui Xie (婷台水榭)
WHAT CHINESE CRITICS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE JUNGLE BOOK
“In terms of motion capture and technological skill, The Jungle Book reaches the peak of perfection and once again raises the question: where exactly is the boundary between animation and film? But by reproducing a movie from the 1960s, there’s a feeling that this version is outdated. Zootopia clearly has a better spirit of the times in dealing with issues involving different ethnicities and peaceful coexistence. Moreover, the film takes a conservative and rather ambiguous attitude towards the conduct of this young boy; it attempts nothing and accomplishes nothing.” — Magasa, Chief Editor of Iris Magazine
The Jungle Book dominated the box office this weekend, playing on 37% of Chinese screens and accounting for 70% of total ticket sales. Far behind in second place, last weekend’s champion London Has Fallen grossed RMB 51 million ($7.9 million), bringing its 10-day total to RMB 296 million ($45.7 million).
Three new releases rounded out the weekend top five: action/crime drama Lost in White (冰河追凶) debuted to just RMB 27.2 million ($4.2 million) despite star turns by Tong Dawei and Tony Leung; Japanese import Biri Gal (垫底辣妹) grossed RMB 21.4 million ($3.3 million) from a four-day opening; and the stoner comedy/action film American Ultra which inexplicably received an import license went up in a puff of smoke, taking in only RMB 13 million ($2.0 million) in 3 days.