China Box Office: Makoto Shinkai’s Anime Blockbuster ‘Suzume’ Cleared for Release (Exclusive)
Japanese anime maestro Makoto Shinkai’s latest blockbuster Suzume has been approved for release in China, another encouraging sign that the world’s second-biggest theatrical market is reopening its doors to international film content. The exact release date has yet to be set, but specialty distributor Road Pictures is expected to give the film a large nationwide launch sometime near the end of the first quarter of 2023.
The green light for the Japanese anime hit follows the Chinese Film Bureau’s recent decision to lift a two year-long de facto ban on Marvel releases. Last month, Marvel and Disney’s superhero tentpoles Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania were given February release dates, ending a China dry spell for the franchise that began in 2020.
Shinkai’s Suzume could have Hollywood-scale earning potential in China. The Japanese auteur’s 2016 anime hit Your Name earned $84 million of its $358 million worldwide haul in China, while his 2019 followup, Weathering with You scored $41 million there. And in the intervening years, the worldwide popularity of top-tier Japanese anime has continued to soar.
Suzume is set to receive its international premiere in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival this month. The movie released in Japan in 2022 and was one of the country’s top theatrical earners, taking in just shy of $100 million. And Suzume‘s story could be particularly well-suited to the Chinese audience’s current post-pandemic, reopening sentiments. Another youth fantasy adventure, the film follows a 17-year-old high school girl named Suzume who helps a mysterious young man close doors from an outer realm that are releasing disasters all across the land.
U.S. anime fans will have to wait until April 14 for Suzume’s North American release, which is being handled by Crunchyroll, Sony Pictures and Wild Bunch International.