These past two weekends have been a wild ride for Disney with the release of its 55th animated feature hit, Zootopia.
With bewildering minimum marketing promotion and a mature movie plot, it's projected to reach even far beyond Frozen numbers. Not only has it been number one since its release, in its China run Disney’s Zootopia crushed the single-day record gross of RMB (Chinese Yuan Renminbi) 127 million equalling US $19.5 million held by DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3. Not to mention, Kung Fu Panda 3 was released in China in a Mandarin-language version that included new animation aimed at the Chinese market with a local voice cast including Jackie Chan. No offense to the pandas, but the bunny and fox win this round.
This in itself is a feat considering DreamWorks Animation teamed with their China office, four-year-old Oriental DreamWorks, for the first time to work on a feature mutually. The joint venture was founded by DWA and Chinese investors with the aim of producing mainly Chinese-themed films, which leads to Zootopia's rare triumph:
With a 10-day PRC (People's Republic of China) cumulative audience of $112 million, "Zootopia" represents Hollywood’s first breakout hit in China since "Jurassic World" earned $229 million there last summer.
This is a great milestone for US animated features especially in a Chinese market where home-made animation runs deep and (usually) dominates.
According to Box Office Mojo, currently Zootopia is also the 2nd highest grossing film for Buena Vista, Disney's distribution counterpart, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 1st place.
Considering another $200+ million more is expected from Zootopia, and a big China-friendly lineup to come that includes Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Finding Dory, The BFG, Pete’s Dragon, Doctor Strange and Rogue One, this could be the first year that a Hollywood studio grosses $1 billion in a single year in China.
Congrats, Disney! Keep 'em coming!