After less than a month in Chinese theaters, Makoto Shinkai’s latest blockbuster Suzume no Tojimari (Suzume) has gone on to absolutely dominate the local market – a development which the film’s aforementioned director has taken as an optimistic sign that the “global box office of Japanese animation has entered a new phrase”.
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In Shinkai’s latest, 17-year-old Suzume Iwato stumbles into a chance meeting with fellow high school student Souta Munakata, who thanks to an unfortunate encounter with the mysterious cat creature Daijin has been transformed into the former’s childhood chair.
It only gets worse for the duo after Suzume finds and opens a mysterious door, which results in other doors opening across Japan and unleashing various natural disasters upon the country. To prevent further destruction, the duo set out on a journey to both close the danger-filled doors and reverse Souta’s curse.
While the film has been performing well across the globe, according to the Japan Times, its results in China have been particularly impressive. There, as of April 18th, Suzume had pulled in 752 million yuan (¥14.66 billion) in the less-than-four weeks it had been available.
In doing so, the film not only quickly surpassed the four-month revenue of its Japanese release by about $180 million, but also snagged the record for the highest-grossing anime film to ever release within the communist country.
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In response to Suzume‘s historical box office milestones, Shinkai declared on Twitter that he believed the film’s success in China signaled a new period of prosperity for the Japanese anime industry.
“This is the first time in history that a film that grossed over 10 billion yen domestically has even surpassed that amount in one foreign country,” Shinkai announced (translated via DeepL). “Suzume also ranked first among all Japanese films at the overseas box office.”
“Personally, I feel that the global box office of Japanese animation has entered another phase,” he added. “It is also the result of what various other films have been building up to.”
Further, the director acknowledged that while it was likely that these records would be broken in no time, he still felt immense gratitude towards the foreign audiences who made the film’s current standing possible.
“I am sure the [box office] record of Suzume will be overwritten in the not-too-distant future,” said Shinkai in a follow-up tweet. “Anyway, I would like to thank all the foreign audiences who saw our foreign productions in theaters.”
Signing off with a hint towards his next moves, he ultimately wrote, “The box office in Japan will continue (I will announce the event in the near future!) and I will be going to India for the premiere tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it!”
As of May 1st, Suzume has made a total of $320.1 million worldwide, making it the fourth highest-grossing anime film of all time.
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