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Hollywood filmmaking is off to a sorry start in 2021 in China’s huge theatrical market.
Following the fourth-place debut of Warner Bros.’ Tom and Jerry a week ago, Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon opened in third place over the weekend, taking in just $8.4 million.
That total might look sizable in the anemic theatrical markets of the West — Raya opened atop the North American box office with $8.6 million — but it’s a paltry sum compared to the hundreds of millions that domestic Chinese tentpoles have been earning lately.
Disney’s Southeast Asia-inspired animated fantasy was trounced by holdover Chinese New Year blockbusters Hi, Mom and Endgame, with $22.9 million and $10.7 million respectively, according to Artisan Gateway data.
Wanda’s Detective Chinatown 3 was neck-and-neck with Raya throughout the weekend too, earning $8.1 million from Friday to Sunday after 24 days on release. Hi, Mom‘s cumulative gross has climbed to $783.4 million (China’s second-biggest total ever), DC3‘s to $680.3 million and Endgame to $89.7 million.
Despite its soft commercial reception, Raya has received fairly positive reviews from Chinese filmgoers. The film currently scores 9.1 on ticketing service Maoyan, 8.8 on Alibaba’s Taopiapiao and 7.4 from movie buff site Douban. Those numbers could mean a modest hold for the movie, but it’s unlikely to stage a comeback akin to what Disney Pixar’s Soul pulled off late last year.
Soul opened to just $5.5 million in December — largely because Disney mounted almost no pre-release marketing campaign for the film — but it went on to earn a healthy $57 million. But Soul received outright rave ratings from moviegoers — 9.6, 9.5 and 9.2 from the ticketing and reviews platforms — whereas Raya‘s reviews are just above middling so far, according to local standards.
Tom and Jerry, meanwhile, earned just $1.4 million in its second weekend, nudging its China total to $14.8 million. The live action/animation hybrid has earned $23 million in North America.
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