China Box Office: Disney’s ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Flames Out at Third

Despite its emphasis on Asian representation and Southeast Asian themes, Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” failed to soar in China, coming in third with just $8.4 million, according to Maoyan data. While the sum might look respectable in other pandemic-stricken locales, it falls short in China’s recovered movie market, which has set box office world records already in 2021.

Although it was the only new title of note to premiere this weekend, “Raya” made less in its three-day China opening than Warner Bros.’ hybrid live-action animation “Tom and Jerry” did last weekend, when earnings of $12.4 million allowed it to squeak in a narrow fifth place debut. “Raya’s” China performance was roughly comparable to its sales in North America, where it debuted first this weekend with $8.6 million from 2,045 screens. China has 75,581 screens.

Among the debuts for Disney titles released in the world’s largest film market since the start of the pandemic, “Raya” hits in the middle of the pack, behind “Mulan’s” $23 million opener but ahead of animated Disney/Pixar offerings “Onward,” which grossed just $1 million as one of the first films to hit re-opened cinemas with August, and “Soul,” which earned $5.5 million over its Christmas debut.

The latter title went on to stronger sales of $13.8 million in week two as it gained traction online via strong local word of mouth. “Raya” could see an uptick in popularity if local viewers find themselves charmed. It currently has middling user ratings, with a 9.1, 8.8 and 7.4 out of 10 on the Maoyan, Douban and Taopiaopiao review platforms, respectively.

A strong upset appears, however, unlikely at the moment. Maoyan currently predicts that “Raya” will make a mere $15.7 million over the full course of its run, less than a fourth of what “Soul” has earned to date.

This week, “Raya” did nevertheless manage to edge past the record-breaking local comedy “Detective Chinatown 3,” which came in fourth with sales of $8.1 million. It also gave a boost to Imax, grossing $1.13 million on Imax screens, which made up a substantial 63% of Imax’s global cume and 13% of the title’s nation-wide China weekend box office.

“Tom and Jerry,” the only other Hollywood title currently in Chinese theaters, hasn’t managed to strike gold in the Middle Kingdom either. Despite being fresh off its debut just last week, it came in eighth with $1.42 million. It lost to the local animated franchise film “Boonie Bears: The Wild Life,” which premiered early last month but still grossed $1.63 million to come in seventh this weekend. “Tom and Jerry” grossed $6.6 million in North America this weekend.

Instead, China’s box office was once again led by local titles. The Chinese New Year holdover films “Hi, Mom” and “Endgame” led in first and second place with earnings of $22.8 million and $10.7 million, respectively. Time-travel family tear-jerker “Hi, Mom” has grossed a massive $765 million to date, making it the country’s second top highest earning film in history.

The dark fantasy actioner “A Writer’s Odyssey” came in fifth with $5.75 million, bringing its total sales up to $144 million. Animation “New Gods: Nezha Reborn” hit sixth with $2.65 million.

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