UPDATE, writethru: Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon didn’t exactly come roaring out of the gate at the international box office with $17.6M from 32 markets. The global bow, including domestic’s launch, was $26.2M. Double-digit million-dollar debuts for Hollywood movies in the pandemic era are still a rare positive — and we’ve certainly seen family movies excel. While not all openings are apples-to-apples, however, Raya’s start is a somewhat muted affair.
There are a couple of factors at work here. Of the total opening, just $8.4M came from China, despite solid social/critical scores in a market that is the only one globally to be firing on all cylinders. Of course, Raya is new IP so doesn’t have a built-in fanbase that generates a rush-to-see urgency. Still, the Middle Kingdom bow is 51% bigger than Soul which legged out to become the No. 2 highest-grossing Pixar pic ever in the market, and was also new IP. From Walt Disney Animation Studios, Raya did enjoy a 178% increase from Friday to Saturday in China, though it’s uncertain whether the animated fantasy sees the same kind of future play as Soul. The current Maoyan score is 9.1 with a 7.4 on Douban whereas Soul has a 9.3 from Maoyan and an 8.8 from Douban. Maoyan is projecting a $15.7M final on Raya. On IMAX screens, Raya grossed $1.13M in China, good for 13% of the nationwide total.
It’s important to bear in mind that outside of China there are few markets that have re-set to anything resembling pre-pandemic levels while capacity restrictions remain in place and four of the key European majors are still closed (UK, France, Germany, Italy).
Still, complicating matters for Raya, there was another important piece missing: Latin American exhibitors Cinépolis and Cinemark did not show the film. Cinemark, as Anthony reported last week, did not screen Raya at its U.S. sites over a disagreement on terms and the same is understood to be the case with its Latin America cinemas. Likewise, Mexico-based Cinépolis, which operates there as well as in several other offshore markets, did not show Raya, thus dinging its opening in a region that’s keen on family fare. (Overall, theaters in Sao Paolo, Brazil were shuttered again as of Saturday with a reopening date to be determined.)
The best overseas Raya start after China was Russia at No. 1 with an estimated $2.8M. There are positive local notices and a national holiday tomorrow in the market. Korea grossed $1M, to come in 90% ahead of Tom & Jerry and 9% less than Onward, but with promising word of mouth. Raya was No. 2 for the weekend in Korea where Minari led all play with $2.2M (more on Minari below).
From directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, Raya is inspired by the cultures and people of Southeast Asia, with a ‘story trust’ (à la Moana) having been formed to bring in cultural and historical experts from the region.
Of the SE Asia markets where the movie opened, it was No. 1 in Thailand with $500K and well above Soul, Onward and Tom & Jerry, as well as in Indonesia and Singapore. In Vietnam, Raya came in below a local title.
Also bowing with No. 1s were Taiwan, Australia, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Ukraine, Ecuador, Bolivia, Trinidad and Uruguay.
Overall, the Top 5 launches were China ($8.4M), Russia ($2.8M), Australia ($1.2M), Korea ($1M) and Japan ($700K). Next weekend adds Hong Kong while Germany, Italy and France are tentatively scheduled for early-mid-April.
In many international markets where Disney+ operates, Raya was also available from Friday on a premium basis, though viewing figures are not available.
The Middle Kingdom, as well as the international box office overall, was again led by local smash Hi Mom, which after adding another $23M this session, has now cumed RMB 5.09B or about $784M. This is far and away the biggest movie of 2021 so far, in a Top 10 that is dominated by Chinese titles.
In other fresh play, A24’s Minari, hot off a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, was No. 1 in Korea during its weekend bow with an estimated $2.2M, more than doubling No. 2 film Raya. The tale of a Korean-American family who moves to a small Arkansas farm on a quest for the American Dream has won over 50 prizes from film critics associations and festivals since debuting at Sundance in 2020. It is up for major prizes at the SAG Awards and is expected to pick up further mentions when the Oscars announce their nominations March 15 — conversely to the Golden Globes, it is eligible in all applicable categories save for Best International Feature as it is a U.S. production.
Already this weekend in Korea, Minari scored the biggest opening for a U.S. film since Soul in January and the debut W-S frame alone surpassed the lifetimes of such Oscar winners as The Favourite and Spotlight. It will soon surpass Green Book’s total gross of $3.2M. Korea is the third international territory to open Minari with Australia and New Zealand still in limited release for about $1M ahead of a wide release post Oscar nominations.
Also new this session, Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking opened to a combined $2.6M in such offshore markets as Australia, Mexico and Korea. Oz led at No. 2 with $915K from 415 screens. Mexico is eyeing an estimated $260K from 915 screens, also at No. 2. A further 15 markets open this week with Russia later in the month on March 25, followed by Brazil in early April. The Doug Liman-directed thriller stars Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, Kurt Sutter and David Oyelowo.
In holdover play, Warner Bros’ Tom & Jerry added $5M from 34 markets to lift the international running cume to $34.3M, and the global total to $57.3M. Russia led the weekend at $1.6M ($5.7M cume) followed by China with $1.4M for an 87% drop ($14.9M cume). Mexico saw a 7% increase over last weekend to gross $1.5M to date. Indonesia, Argentina and Hong Kong release next weekend.
MISC UPDATED CUMES/NOTABLES
The Little Things (WB): $718K international weekend (29 markets); $11.5M international cume/$25.2M global
The Croods: A New Age (UNI): $244K international weekend (27 markets); $104M international cume/$157.7M global
Wonder Woman 1984 (WB): $200K international weekend (39 markets); $118.1M international cume/$162.5M global
Judas And The Black Messiah (WB): $17K international weekend (7 markets); $127K international cume/$4.6M global