A coming-of-age Japanese animation movie is a smash hit in China, raking in over $41 million at the box office to become the top-grossing film over its opening weekend, after beating out Warner Bros' "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them".
Directed by animator Makoto Shinkai, "Your Name" is a fantasy body-swapping romance between two teenagers and its success in the world's second-largest film market is stoking expectations for the film ahead of its wide U.S. release in early 2017.
It received the award for Best Animation of the year from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association on Sunday and is on an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run in Los Angeles this week.
Even before its release, "Your Name" was highly anticipated in China, with its film title trending for at least a week on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog, underscoring the popularity of Japanese animation in Asia.
According to a report from industry body The Association of Japanese Animations, sales of Japanese animation overseas reached $28.84 million in 2015, some 80 percent higher than the $16.18 million in 2014 and up from $16.05 billion in 2013.
The association attributed the sharp rise to growing demand in China, with growth in sales of streaming rights to the world's second largest economy up 78.7 percent in 2015 from a year ago.