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Makoto Shinkai's Your Name

The latest theatrical release from Makoto Shinkai, the director who began his career with the independent anime film Voices of Distant Star, has topped the Chinese box office, becoming the highest grossing 2D animated film of all time in the country. This is after a record breaking release in his home country of Japan, where he rose to be the second highest earning anime film of all time, behind Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. The film was given a special release permission to play in China, which generally only allows 34 foreign films to screen each year in its local box office. There are a number of reasons why this special permission was granted.

While I do believe that we are seeing what will be an expanding trend, as the Chinese market continues to open up, it also, in the end, comes down to money. This is similar to Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge, which was given a one month extension at the box office, (foreign films are typically allowed only one month total) because it was raking in the cash.

According to The Japan Times, "Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top officials have said the two nations should expand the positive aspects in their relationship…", but Shinkai's film was also helped by it's TIMING, and the potential to make a huge splash. These days, potential demand, among the target audience, can be gauged online before a film even comes out, and, in this case, online buzz was already at frenzied levels.

You have 200 million young people, who are the audience with the most disposable income, and they are driving the box office boom in China. They are increasingly interested in international material, and anime, manga and games are at the top of that list. Makoto Shinkai's film, which is a love story targeted exactly at the age demographic, couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time!

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