Japanese industry bucks trend in slow week at Asia’s cinemas
Japanese film asserted itself with a domestic box office top five made up almost exclusively of local content
While trade was slow across Asia this week, Japanese film asserted itself with a domestic box office top five made up almost exclusively of local content. Yu Irie’s Confession of Murder – about a man who publishes a “kill-and-tell” memoir – held the number one position for a second consecutive weekend, adding US$2.3 million worth of ticket sales to its opening weekend take of US$2.9 million.
The one foreign exception to the local dominance was the resurgence of Beauty and the Beast, which collected US$1.9 million over the weekend to climb back to the number two spot after its fall to number three last week. The rallying of ticket sales around the Disney movie brings the film’s Japanese cumulative tally to US$102.7 million and indicates it still has box office momentum.
In third place, Hirugao: Love Affairs in the Afternoon, attracted a largely female audience keen to know more about sexual infidelity as it took an additional US$1.7 million, building on the previous weekend’s take of US$2.6 million.
In fourth position, Shimizu Takashi (Grudge, Reincarnation) returned to the J-horror genre with Innocent Curse. Working from an original screenplay by Shimizu and TV writer Brazily Anne Yamada, Innocent Curse reworks the Ring series’ “deadline for death” trope by giving any victim unlucky enough to encounter a child from the netherworld just three days to live. While not the blockbuster sensation of Shimizu’s earlier efforts, Innocent Curse took US$1.3 million on its opening weekend.
And it wouldn’t be the Japanese box office unless there was at least one anime film. Ranking fifth, The Irregular at Magic High School: The Girl Who Calls the Stars, is the first instalment adapted from a popular teen web novel series that features a more-sci-fi-than-supernatural version of Hogwarts. The anime attracted fewer ticket sales than Innocent Curse, so as per Japanese industry custom, ranked lower on the chart, but it did manage to pull a superior US$1.4 million out of the hat.
In contrast to Japan, China’s box office has a distinct lack of local films in its top five this week. Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant topped the Chinese chart by drawing in a comparatively lacklustre US$28.6 million on its opening weekend. Sluggish figures suggests the movie is being treated as just another installment in the “franchise-go-round” to which China is increasingly susceptible due to a strategic relaxing of its foreign films quota combined with poorly performing local productions. On its second week in China, The Mummy took a respectable US$11.5 million over the weekend to reach a cumulative gross of US$83.5 million – almost as much as the US$84.6 million that Wonder Woman has taken in three weeks.
In fourth place, Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal got a US$1.5 million boost on Sunday. This true story about a wrestler (Aamir Khan) who trains his daughters to be international champions of his sport, made the perfect fare for dads and daughters on China’s Father’s Day. Dangal currently sits on a cumulative total of US$185.8 million and is now in the top ten of China’s highest-grossing foreign films ever.
Lastly, in Korea, The Mummy held the top position for the second week in a row, picking up US$3.7 million over the weekend, and now has a cumulative tally of US$24 million. While Tom Cruise’s reboot of the Universal franchise held its place, the directing debut of Jo Sun-ho, A Day, came in second. With its tragic take on the Groundhog Day-like premise of a guilt-ridden surgeon (Kim Myung-min) unable to protect his daughter from a traffic accident, A Day took in US$4.1 million over its opening weekend, pushing aside Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess, which has roped in US$6.8 million since its release on June 8.