Pixar’s “Luca” Flounders at the Chinese Box Office

The 2021 Pixar film Luca finally premiered in China this past weekend, but sadly didn’t get the numbers that Disney was expecting with only a $5.1 Million haul. The film, which premiered direct to Disney Plus in North America this past June, fell behind the Chinese hit  film Raging Fire, starring Donnie Yen.

Raging Fire has been in Chinese Theaters since July 30th, and it still beat Luca by about $7.1 Million. Despite favorable reviews from Chinese critics, Luca doesn’t appear to be doing all that well.

Luca was approved for Chinese theaters recently as it was among other Hollywood productions on an “approval list”, that included other films included Space Jam: New Legacy and Black Widow. Disney was hoping Luca would do well as 2017’s Coco which made $189 Million in China and 2020’s Soul which made $58 Million.

The low box office return can be contributed to about 30% of Chinese Cinemas being closed due to recent COVID-19 Resurgences in the region and the fact that there was very little marketing leading up to the Chinese premier; But perhaps this may also a sign that Chinese audiences may prefer homegrown movies over Hollywood imports.

Luca was Pixar’s 24th film. It was released on Disney Plus on June 18th, bypassing western movie theaters altogether in favor of streaming. This is not the first time a Pixar film skipped theaters, as 2020’s Soul was also dumped onto streaming. So far these two Pixar films have been available for free on release day, not taking part in the Premier Access program Disney introduced with 2020’s Live Action Mulan Remake, and adopted by other films such as Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella and Black Widow.

Pixar was reportedly unhappy with Luca being made free on Disney Plus, the studio that once produced box office hits is now seemingly relegated to direct-to-streaming projects. Some are concerned that the two 2022 films, Turning Red and Lightyear, will suffer the same fate. I don’t think Pete Doctor is very happy with Disney Management.

With the low box office the film received in China Disney’s hopes of regaining Chinese audiences may be squashed as more and more Chinese grown films are being made, and audiences seem to be preferring home grown films. 

Source: The Hollywood Reporter 


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