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China Box Office: Historic Opening Puts Japan’s ‘Doraemon’ On Top

Japanese animation “Stand By Me Doraemon” toppled “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and topped the Chinese box office over the weekend. Released on Thursday, “Doraemon” grossed $38.3 million in four days.

The feat was unusual as the cat robot movie is the first Japanese film to be allowed to release in China for some three years, since the last “Ultraman” film was released in July 2012. Japan and China maintain frosty political and diplomatic relations, but many aspects of Japanese culture are popular in China and the underlying “Doraemon” cartoon series is well known in China through other media.

Along with the continuing performance of Indian comedy drama “P.K.”, the success of “Doraemon” is a triumph for a degree of diversity in Chinese theaters. “P.K.” opened in second place in its first week and slipped to fourth in its second frame. It added $6.89 million and now stands on a total of $12.04 million after 10 days. That is the biggest single territory performance for any Indian film outside India. And it was achieved in a territory with a negligible Indian diaspora population.

“Ultron” added $17.0 million in its third week, in second place. That boosted its total to $227 million after 20 days. That will guarantee it a top ten performance this year, but there is now no chance that it might overtake “Furious 7” which finished its Chinese run with a cumulative of over $390 million.

Third place went to “Tomorrowland” with $14.1 million take in six days. That was almost the same figure as the film’s opening weekend in North America, where it took $14.3 million. Given the relative size of the theatrical and exhibition markets, the film’s Chinese performance is significantly stronger.

“I, Frankenstein,” releasing nearly a year and a half after its North American debut, opened in fifth spot with $6.35 million.

Chinese-made animation, “Happy Little Submarine Magic Box of Time” was another of the week’s five openers. It debuted in sixth spot with $2.36 million in three days, giving a cumulative of $5.2 million, including previews.

Documentary, “Mr Deng Goes to Washington” continued its journey with $1.05 million on the week in seventh spot. Its 17 day total moves on to $6.7 million.

Chinese romance, “Love Without Distance,” added $1.04 million in a steep tumble from third place. After 11 days it has accumulated $4.60 million.

“The Grow 2,” another Chinese cartoon feature managed only $420,000 and ninth place in its opening three days. It beat tenth placed crime drama “12 Citizens,” which took $360,000 and edged its 17 day cumulative score to $2.04 million.

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