Chinese animation “Nezha” has proven itself China’s surprise hit of the summer, and is on track outstrip “Avengers: Endgame” to become China’s third highest-ever grossing film.
It continued to smash records as the most successful animated title in Chinese film history – surpassing Disney’s 2016 “Zootopia” – during its second weekend, leading the box office with a staggering $127 million, according to figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway. It was also the second highest-grossing film in the world, trailing only “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.”
As of early Monday evening, the dark horse 3-D title from an unknown new director who goes by the name of Jiaozi, or “dumpling,” has already grossed $348 million (RMB2.45 billion), cracking the top 10 of the mainland’s highest-grossing films of all time, just behind 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious” (in eighth place with RMB2.67 billion) and last summer’s “Hello Mr. Billionaire” (in ninth with RMB 2.55 billion).
Data from Maoyan shows that “Nezha” is forecast to gross RMB4.47 billion – a sum that would rocket it past “Avengers: Endgame,” which became the most successful Western title ever to hit Chinese theaters earlier this year with its RMB4.24 billion haul.
The film tells the origin story of Nezha, a well-known and beloved folk deity who was first popularized in the 16th century text “The Creation of the Gods,” upon which Chinese director Wuershan’s forthcoming live-action”Fengshen Trilogy” of films will also be based. Appearances in numerous films and TV shows, often alongside Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, has made the character, typically flying about on his signature of rollerblade-like fire wheels, very familiar to audiences. Online, viewers gave scores of 9.7, 9.5 and 8.6 out of 10 on the Maoyan, Tao Piaopiao and Douban reviewing platforms, respectively.
Meanwhile, Bona Film Group’s patriotic rescue blockbuster “The Bravest,” a co-production with Sony Pictures Intl. Prods., came in second after a Thursday debut, bringing in $56.2 million in its opening weekend. That performance is slightly better than “The Lion King’s” opening weekend in mid-July, when it earned $54.7 million, making it the most successful Disney live-action title in China thus far.
Directed by Tony Chan and depicting the bravery of firefighters, it is the first in a trilogy known as “China’s Pride” intended to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic in October. The two other forthcoming titles in the series are “Chairman Mao 1949” and “The Chinese Pilot,” both set to hit in September to mark the highly politically sensitive occasion.
Local romantic comedy “Coward Hero” came in third with $8.9 million, while “Looking Up,” the family drama, starring, directed and produced by Deng Chao, came in fourth with $3.7 million after three weekends in theaters. Another Chinese animation featuring a robot, “Seer Movie 7,” came in fifth with a $2.9 million opening.