While George Lucas may be thrilled Rogue One: A Star Wars Story finally opened at the top in a major Asian market, anime juggernaut Your Name made it three out of three by hitting it out of the park for the number one spot in South Korea this past weekend.
Usurping Korean crime thriller, Cho Ui-seok’s Master (current total US$44.9 million) from the commanding position it has held for the past two weeks, Shinkai Makoto’s gender-bending animation drama generated over US$10 million since its formal Korean release on January 4.
Given the revitalized controversy about the comfort women issue since the unveiling of a provocative statue opposite Busan’s Japanese consulate last week, it will be interesting to see whether Your Name has the same longevity in South Korea that it has displayed elsewhere in Asia.
Releasing on the same day as Your Name, sci-fi romance Passengers took on board the number three position and US$3.9 million. Other January 4 releases included the latest in the Russian animation series, The Snow Queen 3: Fire and Ice commanded US$1.7 million. The second in the series, The Snow Queen 2: The Snow King, which opened in China last week, made US$2.3 million when it played in Korea in 2014. Also opening on January 4, were two Korean films, Because I Love You and Misbehavior.
Featuring My Sassy Girl star Cha Tae-hyun, as a songwriter with an ability to possess people’s bodies, oddball romcom Because I Love You has charmed US$1.8 million from 5% of the market.
On the bottom rung of the top 10, Korean drama Misbehavior features actresses Kim Ha-neul and Yu In-young as rival teachers who become intimately entangled with male student Lee Won-geun and picked up a modest US$ 704,000.
With more than a little help from Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen cameos, China went Rogue to the tune of US$37.3 million after the franchise’s Sino debut on January 5. While some have described the profits on Rogue One as disappointing compared to The Force Awakens, the almost back-to-back success of this Star Wars instalment and the simultaneous staying power of The Great Wall (current tally US$160.6 million) indicates that cross-pollinating films with Chinese and American stars is likely to continue and the technique successfully cuts both ways with Chinese audiences.
Last week’s Sino success story My Lover (aka Some Like It Hot) cooled down somewhat to reach a gross of US$57.4 million, but still managed to pull ahead of Jackie Chan’s road gang of rogues in Railroad Tigers which has now reached US$88.8 million.
Meanwhile in Japan, the Seijin no Hi/Coming of Age long weekend brought renewed vigor to some films in an otherwise mostly static box office configuration. Amusingly, given that the holiday is to honor teenagers turning 20 and therefore reaching adulthood, the film that experienced the strongest bounce was the one targeting the most juvenile audience.
Returning from a number five slot over the New Year weekend to the top position this week, Yokai Watch the Movie: The Flying Whale and the Grand Adventure of Double Worlds, Meow! lured an additional US$1.9 million worth of ticket buyers.
The RPG (role playing game) spin-off evicted Resident Evil: The Final Chapter from the premier location to move it down to second place where the Milla Jovovich property increased its value by an additional US$2.4 million.
Just behind Resident Evil: The Final Chapter this week, Your Name – which is beginning to feel like a permanent fixture on the Japanese box office – took advantage of the long weekend, to take its tally to US$197.7 million and maintaining the third position. With the anime getting an IMAX launch next week, distribution company Toho is clear that there will be no reason to forget Your Name just yet.