China Box Office: ‘Your Name’ Sets Record, Wins Weekend over ‘Beasts’

Your Name is now the biggest Japanese success in China box office history.

Young Chinese moviegoers dress up in Japanese style school uniforms for an advanced screening of Your Name in Wuhan, China. (Courtesy Weibo)

Young Chinese moviegoers dress up in Japanese style school uniforms for an advanced screening of Your Name in Wuhan, China. (Courtesy Weibo)

Your Name (你的名字), the Japanese anime that has had a historic box office run in its home territory since premiering this summer, arrived on the Chinese mainland last weekend with an impressive, record-breaking debut of RMB 287 million (US$41.6 million).

The three-day splash is the biggest opening ever for a Japanese film in China, surpassing Stand By Me Doraemon’s RMB 239 million in 2015. In addition, Your Name has already become the highest-grossing Japanese film of 2016 in a calendar year that has seen a record number of Japanese imports.

Your Name’s explosion at the box office this weekend boosted the depressed Chinese market on Saturday to its highest daily total since the National Day Holiday on October 1, and bodes well for a strong holiday movie season throughout December.

Directed by Makoto Shinkai, Your Name is a high school love story with appeal for the post-90s demographic that its Chinese marketing has jumped on. Box office data from China’s leading online ticketing platform Maoyan show 83 percent of ticket buyers under the age of 30, and 68 percent under 25. Under ordinary circumstances, animated movies don’t skew this young because parents would be attending with small children. Your Name’s figures, however, indicate an audience of high school students and 20-somethings.

Your Name’s box office success is a major win for Beijing Enlight Pictures (北京光线影业) and its animation subsidiary Color Room Pictures (彩条屋影业) which spent a reported $2.3 million for Your Name’s import license in early November. Enlight, which recently purchased a 19 percent stake in Maoyan, then used the data-driven platform to target potential moviegoers and drive up presales to record numbers.

In a distant second, last weekend’s box office champion Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them dropped 63 percent to RMB 106 million ($15.3 million) due to the increased competition from Your Name and fellow Hollywood release Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. Still Fantastic Beasts’ 10-day RMB 500 million ($72.5 million) total makes it the highest-grossing film in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World film series in China.

Miss Peregrine from 20th Century Fox and director Tim Burton debuted in third place this weekend with RMB 69 million ($9.9 million). Its tepid opening weekend total lagged well behind the Tim Burton-produced sequel Alice Through The Looking Glass that premiered with RMB 178 million ($26.5 million) in May.

In fourth place, the new wuxia film Sword Master (三少爷的剑) from director Derek Yee, producer Tsui Hark, and distributor Bona Film Group debuted with RMB 53.2 million ($7.7 million). Sword Master will open in select North American cities on Friday, December 9 through Well Go USA.

Rounding out the top five, Disney Animation’s Moana stumbled 54 percent in its second weekend of release, grossing RMB 39.1 million ($5.6 million) for a 10-day total of RMB 150 million ($21.5 million). Unfortunately, Moana will be Disney’s lowest-grossing animation of the year in China, unable to catch Finding Dory’s RMB 254 million ($38 million), a Pixar record, or Zootopia’s RMB 1.53 billion ($235.6 million), the highest-grossing animation in Chinese box office history.

Looking ahead to next weekend, Your Name will easily remain atop the box office charts amidst weak competition from Hollywood imports Hacksaw Ridge (Dec 8), Sully, and local romance Suddenly Seventeen (28岁未成年).