Opening 30 years after its original release, the beloved anime classic from Japan’s Hayao Miyazaki made an improbably strong start despite overwhelming competition from the Warner Bros. tentpole.
Warner Bros.’ DC comic book blockbuster Aquaman continues to make waves at China’s box office. The film earned $53.9 million in its second weekend, a drop of just 42 percent from its record $94 million opening, according to data from leading box-office tracker Artisan Gateway. Already the second highest-grossing Warner Bros film of all time in China, Aquaman’s total now sits at $189.1 million. The film should cross $200 million sometime midweek, and it stands a strong chance of surpassing Ready Player One’s Warner Bros.’ studio record of $218.4 million in China.
U.S. studio muscle aside, it was a magical Japanese forest creature who brought the charm to the world’s second-biggest box office territory this frame. Studio Ghibli’s beloved anime classic My Neighbor Totoro, recently restored, opened in China for the first time with a healthy $13 million — not bad at all considering the film made its original international theatrical run some 30 years ago. The robust performance — and warm buzz that has accompanied the release — may well lead to more Hayao Miyazaki classics finding their way to China soon.
The Japanese classic easily bested lllumination’s animated rehash of The Grinch, which opened to just $2.8 million, landing in a distant fourth place.
Indian import Padman, which tells the real-life story of an Indian man who developed a low-cost means of mass producing sanitary pads for local women, opened in third with $5.2 million. It is the second film released in China this year starring Akshay Kumar and focusing on Indian social welfare issues, following Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, which totaled $14.3 million.
Sony Pictures Releasing’s Internet thriller Searching, starring John Cho and Debra Messing, scored fifth with a debut total of $2.7 million.
China’s box-office total for the year stands at $8.48 billion, up 10.8 percent from the same time last year.