It’s a good month for anime films…outside of Japan. On the heels of the international release of Shinkai Makoto’s Suzume, another popular anime movie touched down in international markets. And it’s already setting records in China.
2.2 Billion Yen Worth of Tickets – a real slam dunk
THE FIRST SLAM DUNK is the fifth movie in the popular SLAM DUNK series based on the basketball-themed manga by Inoue Takehiko. It’s the first SLAM DUNK movie made since 1995; Inoue served as both director and screenplay author.
The original SLAM DUNK manga ran from 1990 to 1996 in Shonen Jump. An anime version ran from 1993 to 1996, along with made-for-theater movies.
Despite its age, SLAM DUNK remains popular among fans from all over the world. The manga is a worldwide smash, selling over 170 million volumes. Many trek to Japan specifically to visit a spot in Enoshima, near Kamakura, where visitors snap photos of the green and yellow train connecting Enoshima and Kamakura that was popularized by the series. (Sadly, they aren’t always polite about it.)
The film premieres in China today (April 20th) – and, judging from pre-sales, it’s already a hit. It’s sold 2.2 billion yen (around USD $16 million) in tickets. That already makes it the biggest premiere for a foreign animated movie in China in history.
According to Asahi Shimbun, the series is popular among men in their 30s to 40s in the country where basketball is a popular sport. Many say the story, which focuses on a juvenile delinquent who falls in love with the game, reminds them of their own youths.
Suzume also shatters Chinese records
The arrival of THE FIRST SLAM DUNK comes hot on the heals of the international release of Shinkai Makoto’s Suzume (すずめの戸締り). Suzume also set a record of sorts: it’s grossed more in China than it has domestically in Japan.
Domestically, Suzume is trailing Shinkai’s previous smash success, Your Name, which went on to garner some USD $200 million. Currently, Suzume is only sitting around $100 million. While it was Shinkai’s biggest opening ever, industry experts don’t expect it’ll match the previous success of either Your Name or his previous effort, Weathering With You.
In the United States, however, the film grossed $5 million in its first weekend of release. That’s as much as Your Name grossed in the US during its entire run.
Neither THE FIRST SLAM DUNK or Suzume will come close to Japan’s last animated breakaway hit, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train. The film shattered Japanese domestic box office records. Its 40 billion yen haul rocketed it past the previous record-holder, director Miyazaki Hayao’s beloved film Spirited Away. In fact, Mugen Train was the highest-grossing film worldwide in 2020 – something no other Japanese film has ever achieved.
Either way, it seems China is becoming an increasingly important market for anime in cinemas.
What to read next
スラムダンク、中国でも「青春そのもの」 映画公開に熱狂のファン. Asahi Shimbun
中国で映画「スラムダンク」公開 前売り券の売り上げは22億円超で“過去最高額”更新. Abema Times
Suzume Opening Weekend Crosses $5 Million at U.S.Box Office. ComicBook.com