Disney's 'Raya And The Last Dragon' fails to soar in China

No celebration for 'Raya' as China shows little love for the film despite its emphasis on Asian representation. Photo: Handout

Despite its emphasis on Asian representation and South-East Asian themes, Disney's Raya And The Last Dragon failed to soar in China, coming in third with just US$8.4mil, according to Maoyan data.

While the sum might look respectable in other pandemic-stricken locales, it falls short in China's recovered movie market, which has set box office world records already in 2021. Although it was the only new title of note to premiere this weekend, Raya made less in its three-day China opening than Warner Bros.' hybrid live-action animation Tom And Jerry did last weekend, when earnings of $12.4mil allowed it to squeak in a narrow fifth place debut.

Raya's China performance was roughly comparable to its sales in North America, where it debuted first this weekend with US$8.6mil from 2,045 screens. China has 75,581 screens. Among the debuts for Disney titles released in the world's largest film market since the start of the pandemic,Raya hits in the middle of the pack, behind Mulan's US$23mil opener but ahead of animated Disney/Pixar offerings Onward, which grossed just US$1mil as one of the first films to hit re-opened cinemas with August, and Soul, which earned US$5.5mil over its Christmas debut. The latter title went on to stronger sales of US$13.8mil in week two as it gained traction online via strong local word of mouth.

Raya could see an uptick in popularity if local viewers find themselves charmed. It currently has middling user ratings, with a 9.1,8.8 and 7.4 out of 10 on the Maoyan, Douban and Taopiaopiao review platforms, respectively. A strong upset appears, however, unlikely at the moment.

Maoyan currently predicts that Raya will make a mere US$15.7mil over the full course of its run, less than a fourth of what Soul has earned to date. This week, Raya did nevertheless manage to edge past the record-breaking local comedy Detective Chinatown 3, which came in fourth with sales of US$8.1mil .

Tom And Jerry, the only other Hollywood title currently in Chinese theatres, hasn't managed to strike gold in the Middle Kingdom either. Despite being fresh off its debut just last week, it came in eighth with US$1.42mil. It lost to the local animated franchise film Boonie Bears: The Wild Life, which premiered early last month but still grossed US$1.63mil to come in seventh this weekend. Tom And Jerry grossed US$6.6mil in North America this weekend.

Instead, China's box office was once again led by local titles. The Chinese New Year holdover films Hi, Mom and Endgame led in first and second place with earnings of US$22.8mil and US$10.7mil, respectively. Time-travel family tear-jerker Hi, Mom has grossed a massive US$765mil to date, making it the country's second top highest earning film in history. The dark fantasy actioner A Writer's Odyssey came in fifth with US$5.75mil, bringing its total sales up to US$144mil. Animation New Gods: Nezha Reborn hit sixth with US$2.65mil. – Reuters
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