'Despicable Me 2' Finally Opens in China

Edko (Beijing) Films Limited
Deng Chao and Cindy Tian voice the lead characters in the Chinese version of "Despicable Me 2."

Universal's sequel was the highest-grossing animated feature of 2013, but with no help from the world's second-largest movie market, where its release was delayed by seven months.

Universal's Despicable Me 2 finally opened in China on Friday, over seven months after its U.S. premiere. With a $920 million worldwide cume to date, the film was the highest-grossing animated feature of 2013 -- but with no help from the world's second-largest movie market, where it was reportedly held up due to difficulties with a local agent. But Universal says Despicable Me 2 is already the most profitable film in the studio's 101-year history.

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While a lengthy delay to Chinese screens can often torpedo an imported film there -- Django Unchained bombed after it was released after weeks of censorship hang-ups last year -- animated features are generally believed to fare better in such circumstances, as they remain a strong family and date-night draw. But no animation of recent memory has had to wait quite as long as Despicable Me 2 to land in China, making box office predictions a matter of conjecture.

The first Despicable Me film didn't score a release in China when it came out in 2010 -- for reasons that were never revealed, as China's state film regulators seldom share their motives.

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China's market for animated films is booming. Even without a Despicable Me 2 release, animated features grossed $248 million (1.5 billion yuan) in 2013, up from $104 million (630 million yuan) in 2009, according to Beijing-based film-research outfit Entgroup.

Despicable Me 2, originally starring Steve Carell, is voiced by actor Deng Chao and child actress Cindy Tian in the Chinese version.