Actress Tian Jing attends the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros "Kong: Skull Island" on March 8, 2017. Photo: Agence France-Presse.
Actress Tian Jing attends the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros "Kong: Skull Island" on March 8, 2017. Photo: Agence France-Presse.

Picking up, US$7.5 million, Kong: Skull Island was the hottest thing in the Korea box office this weekend. But Kong was hotter still in Vietnam when at the Ho Chi Min City premiere, fires from a model volcano set alight a promotional statue of the great ape and turned the film’s opening pre-show activities into a 20-minute inferno.

Kong: Skull Island was the hottest ticket in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: AFP

When it releases in China on March 24, Kong: Skull Island will be the Middle Kingdom’s second exposure to the gargantuan gorilla. Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of RKO’s 1933 hit, King Kong, was a box office record-breaker 11 years ago and fingers will be crossed that Chinese audiences are ready to go wild for more ape action.

The day after it releases in China, the film will then open in Japan. Kong’s fortunes seem more certain there, as the character has a stronger foothold in the Japanese consciousness after being co-opted for a number of kaiju features where the giant ape combated the nuclear-breathed Gojira aka Godzilla in the 1960s.

King Kong and Japan go way back

The creature that overturned the Wolverine’s alter ego in China was of a much smaller scale than a towering gorilla. Nipping at the heels of Logan last week, A Dog’s Purpose, Lasse Hallstrom’s tale of a frequently reincarnated dog and the families that host him, bounded into the Chinese chart’s number one spot this past weekend to reach a total of US$53.5 million. However, comparing overall performance since both films were released on March 3, the metallic-taloned mutant is the clear winner, raking in a tally of US$87.1 million.

China’s gamers made sure that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter continued to play strongly in the third position with the computer-inspired franchise reaching a tally of US$154.4 million on its third week in play. Coming up behind the sixth film in the Resident Evil franchise was the eighth film in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (don’t let those Roman numerals fool you; they refer to the original RPG games, not CGI films). Nestling into the fourth position, Kingsglaive scored a total of US$3.6 million after its opening weekend.

After conquering the globe, Disney’s Polynesian-inspired animation Moana finally landed like a tsunami in Japan. Arriving with the extended title Moana and the Legendary Sea, the Disney film pulled in US$5.1 million as it took the number one position at the box office.

Trailing behind last week’s leader, Doraemon the Movie, 2017: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi, and the still popular La La Land, the number four position was claimed by Let’s Go, Jets! Based on the true story of a cheerleading club from a Fukui prefecture schoo that emerged as winners of a 2009 US competition, the feelgood movie took a rousing US$1.7 million.

Toho are upbeat about the prospects of Let’s Go Jets!, citing the movie’s wide appeal and the impending Spring school holidays, but the fact is that most films – even blockbusters – struggle to last more than three weeks in cinemas. Which makes what is likely to be anime sensation Your Name’s final appearance at number 10 on the Japanese chart after 29 straight weeks, a good time to consider how rare such successes are.