Caixin
Aug 01, 2019 08:11 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

First Week Box Office of ‘Nezha’ Makes It Most Successful Chinese Animated Flick Ever

“Nezha” premieres in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan province, on July 21. Photo: IC Photo
“Nezha” premieres in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan province, on July 21. Photo: IC Photo

In its opening week, “Nezha” has raked in nearly 1.2 billion yuan ($174 million) at the box office, making it the most successful Chinese animated movie ever.

“Nezha” is based on an anti-authority character from Chinese mythology, who in the movie fights to overcome prejudice and pursue his dreams. The movie netted 139 million yuan in box office on its first day on July 26, according to industry data provider EntGroup.

And “Nezha” is on course to rake in even more cash. Online ticket platform Maoyan predicts the film will take 3.5 billion yuan by the end of its run. If that estimate proves correct, “Nezha” would easily topple Disney’s “Zootopia” for the title of China’s biggest ever animated film. “Zootopia,” which screened in China in 2016, netted a total of 1.5 billion yuan at the box office.

The movie’s success is a milestone for China’s animated film industry, analysts said. It represents a trend of domestically made animated movies that target an audience that is coming of age, said Yue Yanping, an associate professor at the Communication University of China. Yue said China’s progress in developing such films has been accelerating in recent years.

“Nezha” was directed by 39-year-old Yang Yu, who came to fame when his first animated film — “See Through” — garnered a series of awards, including a special mention at the 26th International Berlin Short Film Festival in 2010. The 16-minute film tells the story of two enemy pilots who became best friends after they are stranded after an air crash.

The financial success of “Nezha” is expected to give a boost to the confidence of the lagging Chinese movie industry, which after years of blockbuster growth has faced a regulatory crackdown after a high-profile tax evasion scandal last year.

In the first half of this year, Chinese box office revenue slid 2.7% to 31.2 billion yuan, the first drop in eight years.

In that period, only three movies recorded a box office of over 2 billion yuan, including “Avengers: Endgame” and Chinese-made sci-fi flick “The Wandering Earth.”

“Nezha” is also expected to give a boost to the studio that made it — Shenzhen-listed Beijing Enlight Media Co. Ltd. — which last month predicted its first-half profits would drop by at least 95% to as little as 85 million yuan.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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