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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.
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.
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.
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