‘Avatar 2’ Release Looms – The Hollywood Reporter

Japanese anime blockbuster One Piece Film Red won a slow weekend at China’s theatrical box office, supplanting fellow anime franchise installment Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween, which had held the top spot for the past two weeks.

Film Red, the fifteenth film in Oda Eiichiro’s iconic One Piece manga and film franchise released in China on Thursday and earned $10.5 million over its first four days, according to data from regional consultancy Artisan Gateway. Continuing the recent upwards trajectory for Japanese anime in cinemas across the globe, the film has been a smash in several other major markets, including $130 million in Japan and about $13 million in North America.

Toho’s Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween fell to second place, adding $1.8 million for a three weekend total of $19.4 million. Chinese holdover The Tipping Point added just under $1 million for third place. In cinemas for just shy of one moth, the crime thriller has earned about $21.3 million.

China’s patchwork of ever-shifting COVID policies continues to hamper consumer activity throughout the world’s second-largest economy. Amid growing social unrest over the seemingly unending disruptions to daily life, Beijing instructed regional governments last week to accelerate a cautious easing of the strictest quarantine and testing requirements. But as few as 50 percent of Chinese movie screens are fully operational at present, according to some estimates.

A dearth of blockbuster content also continues to weigh on tickets sales in the country, with Hollywood imports slowing to a trickle and the biggest Chinese tentpoles waiting and hoping for a clearer runway during Chinese New Year holiday in January 2023.

Disney and James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water — expected to be the biggest box-office draw in many months when it opens Dec. 15 — will provide a clear test of the market’s recovery amid the early stages of Beijing’s tentative exit from Covid zero.

At present, China’s 2022 box office total — $4.02 billion, according to Artisan Gateway — is down about 36 percent from the same period in 2021.

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