“Tom and Jerry” squeaked in a narrow fifth in China with a $12.4 million debut, failing to capture viewers still flocking to local Chinese New Year holdover titles over the Lantern Festival holiday weekend.
The Warner Bros. hybrid animated live-actioner skittered into the world’s largest film market with just $8,000 (RMB50,000) less than its closest competitor, the fourth place local fantasy adventure “A Writer’s Odyssey,” which earned around $12.4 million as well.
It fell, however, further behind the Chinese New Year frontrunners “Hi, Mom,” “Detective Chinatown 3” and “Endgame,” which came in first through third with $53.3 million, $19.7 million and $14.5 million, respectively.
China sales for “Tom and Jerry” were just a hair below the film’s $13.7 million North American debut. That opener marked one of the biggest domestic debut weekends for a film since the pandemic began, since no other film in the past 10 months has hit above the $10 million-mark Stateside.
Yet while $13.7 million is seen as cause for celebration and touted as a reason for renewed confidence in the U.S., it is a mere drop in the bucket for the recovered China market — a territory where just two weeks ago “Detective Chinatown 3” marked the biggest opening weekend of all time in a single market with sales of $424 million.
The result may come as a surprise in a country where there is a consistent appetite for children’s animation, as seen in the continued success of the local “Boonie Bears” franchise, as well as a historic fondness among audiences for the Tom and Jerry cat and mouse characters. Plus, no other new titles of note local or foreign debuted on Friday to compete with Warner Bros.
China’s overall box office rolled in at $125 million this weekend, down from record highs during the Lunar New Year but still far more than the $97 million tally of the North American box office to date in all of 2021.
In sixth place this week was Light Chaser Animation’s “New Gods: Nezha Reborn,” which grossed $5.63 million. Behind it were “Boonie Bears: The Wild Life” with $4.25 million and video game adaptation “The Yin Yang Master” in seventh with $1.09 million.
Analysts will be on the look-out next week for the debut of Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which hits China on March 5, premiering alongside the small local horror film “Endless Love.”