By Nancy Tartaglione
International Box Office Editor/Senior Contributor
Universal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru bowed in China today (Friday), grossing an estimated RMB 21.74M ($3.2M), including midnights. This was good for the biggest opening day of a Hollywood animated film during the pandemic.
Overall, and not including China’s Friday, Rise of Gru has grossed $461.2M at the international box office for $807.7M worldwide.
The origins story from director Kyle Balda and co-directors Brad Ableson and Jonathan del Val, saw its first day in China land above The Croods: A New Age’s RMB 19.7M from November 27, 2020, as well as other studio toons released in the intervening time.
On Friday, Rise of Gru ranked No. 3 in the daily chart behind local animated newcomer Yang Jian (New Gods) and the continued play of local blockbuster Moon Man.
In the early hours of Saturday locally, Rise of Gru is on the rise, ahead of Moon Man for the day, and running at No. 2 behind Yang Jian. It has a terrific 9.2 rating on Maoyan which is above the scores for Minions (8.9) and Despicable Me 3 (8.8).
Compared to its franchise siblings, Rise of Gru is not far off Despicable Me 2’s China launch day of RMB 24.5M, but is below DM3’s RMB 141.2M and Minions’ RMB 121.1M.
Clearly, however, we are in a different climate. Covid is seeing a spike again with 17% of all locations (including 25% in Shanghai) closed. DM3, which is the highest grossing of the franchise in the market ultimately finaled at $158M there (non-adjusted) after opening at the beginning of the summer holiday in pre-pandemic 2017. Maoyan is currently forecasting a finish for Rise Of Gru at RMB 323.7M ($47.5M).
If Gru were to land at the current Maoyan prediction (and we know from experience those numbers tend to shift) it would bring it in line with Uni/DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys which had a strong run in the market earlier this year.
Gru is the first major tentpole from Hollywood to hit China since Universal’s own Jurassic World Dominion which closed its extended run at $158M and is the biggest studio import of 2022. This has been a rocky year for box office in China overall, with the summer starting out slowly as a Covid spike forced closures earlier this year in Shanghai and Beijing. The summer recently edged last year’s three-month tally, however, thanks to Jurassic World Dominion and such local pics as Lighting Up the Stars and Moon Man.
There’s also a China Film Administration campaign afoot to boost the industry by giving away RMB 100M ($15M) worth of coupons to get folks out to cinemas. This is reportedly due to run from August through October.
Elsewhere, Rise of Gru opened in Italy on Thursday at $1.5M at 446 sites.When including the three days of paid previews, the local total is $3.1M. The opening day (excluding previews) marks the 4th highest for Universal behind Minions, Fifty Shades Of Grey and DM3, as well as the 3rd highest for the pandemic behind Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange 2; and the highest pandemic opening for Universal ahead of JWD.
Updates to come.
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