Lovers of high-quality animation were spoiled for choice in China over the weekend, as Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4 opened head-to-head against a rerelease of Japanese anime classic Spirited Away.
Toy Story 4 might be the standard bearer for Hollywood animation at its most potent and powerful — treasured IP, an all-star voice cast and hundreds of Pixar animators working with a budget of over $200 million! — but it proved no match for Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki’s beautifully hand-drawn story of a young girl’s adventure in the spirit world.
Spirited Away, opening in China 18 years after its original international release, dominated the local box office charts, earning $28 million. Toy Story 4 scored highly on China’s online reviews sites, but came in a distant second with $13.2 million, according to data from local consultancy Artisan Gateway.
Disney’s China marketing team might be catching a little heat, but the studio won’t be sweating the small returns from the Middle Kingdom too much, considering that Toy Story 4 opened to $118 million in North America, one of the biggest openings of all time for an animated movie.
Sony’s Men in Black: International, meanwhile, fizzled in its second frame, earning just $5.9 million for a two-weekend total of $40.4 million.
Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla: King of Monsters, continued to overperform slightly in China, managing to add $3.5 million in its fourth weekend. The film’s total has climbed to $131.2 million, making it Hollywood’s fifth biggest title of the year so far in the Middle Kingdom, trailing only Avengers: Endgame ($614 million), Bumblebee ($171 million), Captain Marvel ($154 million) and Alita: Battle Angel ($133 million). Beijing regulators granted King of Monsters a one-month release extension late last week, which should allow it to push past Battle Angel.
Local teen romance My Best Summer was the only Chinese title to crack the weekend top-five. Starring heartthrobs Chen Feiyu and He Landou, the film has earned $54.1 million since its release June 6.
China’s box office remains in the red in 2019. Total tickets sales nudged to $4.36 billion Monday — 3.8 percent less than earnings over the same stretch in 2018.