China Box Office: ‘Godzilla x Kong’ Retakes Lead, as ‘The Boy and the Heron’ Passes $100 Million

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Fantasy action movie “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” retook the top spot at the mainland China box office from Studio Ghibli animation title “The Boy and the Heron” during the latest weekend.

“Godzilla x Kong” recorded earnings of $7.3 million (RMB51.5 million) between Friday and Sunday, a 32% week-on-week drop, according to data from consultancy firm Artisan Gateway. But it returned to the top spot on the box office charts in its fourth weekend of release and overtook “The Boy and the Heron” in the process. After 24 days on release, “Godzilla x Kong” has earned a cumulative $121 million (RMB862 million) in China. That figure is the highest in China for any foreign title so far in 2024.

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“The Boy and the Heron” dropped by 43% between its second and third weekends and recorded a $6.3 million (RMB44.6 million) Friday to Sunday score. Since releasing on April 3, the film has built up a 19-day cumulative of $104 million (RMB735 million). That figure is higher than the $93 million earned last year by “The First Slam Dunk,” but lower than the $114 million scored by “Suzume,” and would appear to confirm the strength of Japanese animation film among Chinese audiences.

But that analysis has recently been clouded by a wave of Chinese nationalist, anti-Miyazaki commentary in Chinese social media. Specifically, WWII-set “The Boy and the Heron” was criticized for depicting the boy’s father as working for a Japanese munitions company and for its portrayal of Japanese people as suffering from the effects of war. Chinese nationalists refer to the Japanese occupation of parts of China in the 1930s and its army’s brutality against Chinese civilians in the second Sino-Japanese War and WWII.

Whether there is a connection between the film’s Chinese box office deceleration and the online nationalist fervor is unclear. Miyazaki is well-known for his anti-war stance. And, in the last week, a semi-permanent exhibition of Miyazaki works and paraphernalia was opened in Shanghai, in partnership with film distributor Alibaba Pictures.

An alternative explanation for the film’s slowdown might include the depleting effect of its large debut weekend when it benefited from an advanced opening and three days of public holiday.

The film’s performance in China is its highest anywhere in the world. It is more than double the $46 million earned in North America and far exceeds its $60.7 million in its native Japan.

“Viva La Vida” held strongly with $2.1 million (RMB15.2 million) in its fourth weekend of re-release. After a disastrous Lunar New Year release, a season of previews and 24-days of re-release, the film has a cumulative of $35.9 million (RMB255 million).

“Kung Fu Panda 4” dropped by only 20% in its fifth weekend on release in China. Its cumulative since releasing on March 22 now stands at $48 million (RMB341 million).

Japanese animation, “Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning” released on Saturday and earned $1.4 million (RMB9.6 million), good enough for fifth place over the weekend.

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