Latest film in the Detective Conan franchise may take a hit at Chinese mainland box office due to fallout from Japan’s decision to dump radioactive nuclear-contaminated water into sea
Published: Apr 18, 2021 07:02 PM
Promotional material of <em>Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet</em> Photo: Sina Weibo

Promotional material of Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet Photo: Sina Weibo

The 24th animation film franchise Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet kicked off in China on Saturday, only grossing 69.7 million yuan ($10 million) on the premiere day. 

Chinese moviegoers expressed their disappointment not only in the quality of the film itself, but also their loss of interest in Japanese film and television works following Japan’s decision to dump radioactive nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. Chinese film observers said Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet may take a hit at the Chinese box office due to Japan’s decision.

Just like Hollywood, Japan hopes to earn big in the world’s largest film market, which can be seen in the amount of marketing for the film on Chinese social media. However, this may all be for naught as reviews of the film are complaining that the film is not well made and that Japan’s recent move has made them lose interest in Japanese films.

Currently, the film had grossed 99.02 million yuan as of Sunday noon and only has a 6.1/10 score on Chinese review site Douban.

The theatrical release of the Detective Conan films in the Chinese mainland has long been a barometer of Chinese-Japanese relations.

In 1997, the first theatrical version of Detective Conan was released in Japan. While this Japanese national treasure-level cartoon had many fans in China, it did not come to Chinese mainland cinemas until 12 years later due to tense relations between China and Japan. 

It wasn’t until after 2009 when Representative of the Democratic Party of Japan Yukio Hatoyama became prime minister and held a friendly attitude toward China that things began to change. The 13th film in the franchise Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser, came to the Chinese mainland in 2010.

However, the two countries’ honeymoon period did not last long. In 2012, Japan’s “nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands triggered anti-Japanese sentiment in China. Detective Conan: The Eleventh Striker, the 16th film, was set to be released in the mainland on September 25, 2012, but was withdrawn due to deteriorating China -Japan relations. 

One film observer who wished to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Sunday that if Japan’s decision to release nuclear-contaminated water into the sea had being announced earlier, Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet may not have seen a release at all. 

“Negative news about Japan such as its release of nuclear-contaminated water will definitely affect the import of Japanese film and television works into China. But there are a very few films that are worth importing due to the quality of Japanese live-action movies showing a declining trend in recent years. Only some classic animated movies are a good choice,” Shi Wenxue, a film critic, told the Global Times on Sunday.