'Toy Story 4' beaten at China's box office by 18-year old movie

Toy Story 4 beaten by Spirited Away at the Chinese box office (Credit: Studio Ghibli/Disney-Pixar)
Toy Story 4 beaten by Spirited Away at the Chinese box office (Credit: Studio Ghibli/Disney-Pixar)

Toy Story 4 might have been the biggest release in the Western world over the weekend but in China, another animation took the crown.

Spirited Away, the Oscar winning movie from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, was released for the first time in China and secured a $28 million (£21.9 million) opening box office compared to the Disney Pixar film’s $13.2 million (£10.3 million).

Spirited Away accounted for 30% of China’s nationwide screenings compared to 18% for Toy Story 4, according to Variety.

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The Japanese anime was first released worldwide in 2001, but it has taken 18 years for Chinese authorities to relent and allow it to screen in its country as tension between the two Asian superpowers begin to thaw.

Spirited Away was first released in 2001
Spirited Away was first released in 2001

Last December, Miyazaki’s 1988 classic anime My Neighbour Totoro was released in China though its entire run made $2 million (£1.6 million) less than Spirited Away’s opening weekend.

The massive opening weekend for the movie, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003 at the 75th Academy Awards, goes to show how popular Studio Ghibli films are in China.

Despite only recently its films being released in cinemas, many Chinese fans have been able to watch pirated copies though, of course, nothing compares to watching these beautiful animations on the big screen.

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Spirited Away is still the highest-grossing film in the history of the Japanese box office, earning well over $275 million (£215 million) in its native land from its original release.

It’s not a total disappointment for Toy Story 4 though as it has broken box office records for an animated movie by earning $238 million (£187 million) globally.

The fourth film in the franchise performed better in Latin America and Europe compared to the US as it fell short of its predicted $140 million (£110 million) debut by securing $118 million (£93 million) instead.

Toy Story 4 is in cinemas now