‘Do­rae­mon’ leaps past the ‘Avengers’

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Julie Maki­nen julie.maki­nen@la­times.com

BEI­JING — The Ja­panese ro­bot cat Do­rae­mon broke through at Chi­nese cin­e­mas last week, over­tak­ing the Avengers to claim the top spot at the box of­fice as for­eign films ruled the charts.

“Stand by Me Do­rae­mon,” the first Ja­panese film im­ported into China in three years, opened Thurs­day and col­lected $38.7 mil­lion in its first four days in the­aters, ac­cord­ing to data from film in­dus­try con­sult­ing firm Ar­ti­san Gate­way. The movie, fea­tur­ing the long-pop­u­lar blue fe­line from the fu­ture, was a smash at the Ja­panese box of­fice when it was re­leased there last year.

The com­puter-an­i­mated movie looks to have a shot at sur­pass­ing the record for the top gross for an an­i­mated film in China, cur­rently held by DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion’s 2011 re­lease “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which raked in more than $96 mil­lion.

The suc­cess of the film comes less than a year af­ter sev­eral state-run Chi­nese news­pa­pers warned that the ro­botic cat from the 22nd cen­tury was a pro­pa­ganda tool used by the Ja­panese govern­ment to cover up atroc­i­ties from the World War II era.

Although “The Avengers: Age of Ul­tron” slipped to sec­ond place on the weekly box­of­fice chart, the Marvel film added nearly $17 mil­lion to its tally and now ranks as the third-high­est gross­ing film of all time in China, with al­most $227 mil­lion in ticket sales. Only Univer­sal Pic­tures’ “Fu­ri­ous 7” and Para­mount Pic­tures’ “Trans­form­ers: Age of Ex­tinc­tion” have grossed more, with $391 mil­lion and nearly $306 mil­lion, re­spec­tively.

De­but­ing in third place was Dis­ney’s “To­mor­row­land,” which took in $14 mil­lion af­ter open­ing May 26. The In­dian sci-fi fan­tasy “P.K.,” star­ring me­gas­tar Aamir Khan, added $6.9 mil­lion to its tally, push­ing its to­tal take to $12 mil­lion — a record for an In­dian film in China.

Lionsgate’s “I, Franken­stein,” be­lat­edly im­ported af­ter its 2014 state­side re­lease, rounded out the top five for the week, gross­ing $6.4 mil­lion since open­ing May 26, Ar­ti­san said.

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