Disney’s “Luca” is the first Hollywood picture to get a release in China in weeks, but its opening figures didn’t make that big of a splash — at least, not close to enough to douse the continued reign of Donnie Yen action film “Raging Fire.”
The animation directed and co-written by Enrico Casarosa swam to a $5.1 million China opening weekend, according to consultancy Artisan Gateway. That was enough to net it second at the sluggish box office this which in which only four films grossed more than $1 million, but less than other comparable Hollywood animations in the past.
Earlier this year in March, for instance, Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” opened third with $8.4 million. Animations hitting in pre-pandemic 2019 did even better, albeit boosted by franchise name recognition. “Toy Story 4,” for instance, debuted that summer to $13.2 million even while going head-to-head with the more popular opening of Hayao Miyazaki’s nearly two decade-old “Spirited Away,” which opened with an even more substantial $28 million. In November of 2019, Disney’s nabbed its best ever China opening for an animation with “Frozen 2,” which debuted to $53 million.
“Luca” also grossed much less than recent local animation and competitor “Green Snake.” The sequel to 2019’s “White Snake” from Light Chaser Animation earned $29.7 million in its first weekend — about five times what “Luca” managed to reel in. Disney’s entry has hit about on par with the much cruder local children’s animation “Agent Backkom: Kings Bear,” which also opened last month to $4.8 million.
Nevertheless, three days worth of sales in China have already been enough to make the mainland the second highest grossing territory for “Luca” worldwide. It has only earned more theatrically in Russia/CIS, where it’s grossed $8.1 million since its June 17 opening there, according to Box Office Mojo. On China’s Douban platform, “Luca” upholds a moderately positive 7.3 rating.
Meanwhile, “Raging Fire” held top spot at the China box office for an incredible seventh weekend in a row since its July 23 debut a month ago. It grossed a further $12.2 million to bring its cume up to $146 million, Artisan Gateway said.
In third place was “Green Snake,” which earned $2.8 million and now has a cume of $81.7 million — far more than the $13.3 million the Maoyan platform currently predicts will be the final tally for “Luca.”
Huayi Brothers’ “Upcoming Summer” made fourth with a further $2.6 million, bringing its cume since July 30 up to $54.3 million, Artisan Gateway said. Bona Film Group’s patriotic pandemic film “Chinese Doctors” earned $800,000
China’s total box office is currently down 25% compared to the same period in 2019, coming in at the moment just shy of $5 billion.