MONDAY UPDATE, writethru after Sunday 11:41AM post: There was a bit more varied action at the international box office this holiday weekend. Highlights include the continued rollout of Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 with a good start in Australia, a sizable bow for China’s Shock Wave 2, the debut of Disney/Pixar’s Soul and a brand new milestone for Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train which has officially overtaken Spirited Away to become the highest-grossing film ever in Japan.
Starting with Wonder Woman 1984, the Patty Jenkins-directed sequel added an estimated $19.4M from 40 overseas markets, taking the international box office cume to $68.3M. When combined with this frame’s domestic debut, the worldwide running total is $85M.
Last week’s bow was hindered by a soft debut in China, and the picture isn’t any rosier in the Middle Kingdom, but there are some positive signs elsewhere. WB has just noted it is fast-tracking development on a threequel.
In terms of new play, Australia had a strong launch this frame, coming in 110% above the first Wonder Woman and scoring the 2nd biggest opening of the year with $4.5M on 650 screens. It dominated the market with a 60% share. Korea, where cinemagoing is severely impacted by Covid, gave Diana Prince the No. 1 spot with $2.5M from 2,260 screens. In India, WW84 lassoed the biggest Hollywood opening of the year and the top industry debut during the pandemic. It came in on par with the first WW.
This frame overall, there were more cinema closures due to Christmas, notably in the UK which saw additional locations move into Tier 3 and 4 Covid restrictions over the weekend, further shutting down venues. In Brazil and Mexico, typically strong DC markets, approximately half of movie theaters were open, with capacity limits.
The Top 5 so far for Gal Gadot’s Amazon warrior are China ($23.9M), Taiwan ($6.5M), Australia ($4.5M), Japan ($3.1M) and Singapore and Thailand each at $2.9M.
IMAX reports WW84 added $1M from 280 offshore screens. The global total is now $8.2M or nearly 10% of the gross.
The No. 1 movie internationally this session is Chinese action sequel Shock Wave 2 which grossed $63.8M since debuting Thursday. This blows away the previous film’s full Middle Kingdom run of $58M, and is almost on par with the full recent run of Tenet in the market. Directed by Herman Yau, the follow-up about a bomb disposal officer stars Infernal Affairs’ Andy Lau and has a strong 9.2 on Maoyan with an 8 from Douban. IMAX brought in $4.4M of the total from 656 screens.
Disney/Pixar’s Soul strummed into 10 overseas markets this weekend, jazzing its way to a $7.6M start. The lead play was China with $5.5M for the three-day and double what Onward did earlier this year. Although that was good for just No. 4 behind three local titles, social and critical scores are superb at 9.6 from Maoyan, a 9.5 on Tao Piaopiao and a 9.2 on Douban. These are among the highest for any Disney release while word of mouth pushed significant daily increases throughout the frame (+179% from Friday to Saturday and +52% Saturday to Sunday) as the movie moved up the chart.
The Pete Docter-directed original story also bowed in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Thailand, landing at No. 2 in each. Taiwan ($800K) was above the openings of both Onward and Moana; Saudia Arabia ($400K) and UAE ($200K) doubled the start of Croods 2.
Soul is playing digitally in markets where Disney+ exists, and will go theatrical elsewhere meaning that China, Korea and Russia are the key hubs for the film. The later two are currently scheduled for late January.
The midweeks are expected to be solid on both Shock Wave 2 and Soul which will then have to contend with the highly-anticipated emotional drama A Little Red Flower on December 31.
Toho/Aniplex’s juggernaut Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train has now dethroned Spirited Away as the highest-grossing movie in Japan’s history. With 32.48B yen ($313.5M), the film took just 11 weeks to get to the milestone. This comes 19 years after 2001 Oscar winner Spirited Away grossed 30.8B yen, a figure that was recently trued up to 31.68B yen, including a summer re-release this year. Admissions confirmed by the distributors early Monday morning local time stand at 24.05M — and all during a pandemic.
Demon Slayer has been a sight to behold since it shattered opening records on the weekend of October 16, and hardly slowed down afterwards. It has regularly seen weekend-on-weekend increases thanks to giveaways that encouraged repeat viewings. On December 26, MX4D and 4DX versions were added in 82 cinemas across Japan. Demon Slayer is the No. 5 movie worldwide of 2020 and No. 3 overseas. It is also the highest-grossing animated title of the year. For IMAX, it is the format’s biggest movie ever in Japan with $21M there. Overall, Demon Slayer’s IMAX cume is $22.3M.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, the story of a boy fighting human-eating demons has been boosted by its message of resilience. The same outlet reports that a cottage industry has built up around the film from toys to Demon Slayer-themed canned coffee.
Elsewhere, The Croods: A New Age picked up another $9.2M this session, for a great 53% drop in week 5. The sequel is now in 16 offshore markets where it has a running cume of $67.9M for $98.3M global. Russia was the best addition this frame at a No. 1 $3M from 1,680 locations, followed by Australia with $2.7M from 295 and Spain with $1.4M from 334 at No. 1. Spain is the only European major currently operating, and other continental release dates are TBD given the ongoing cinema closures. The China gross is now $51.4M, surpassing the lifetime of Despicable Me 2.
Next weekend will include the aforementioned A Little Red Flower in China as well as the continued play of WW84, Croods 2 and others.