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China’s animated blockbuster Ne Zha continues to steamroll the competition — after 22 days on release.
During a fourth consecutive weekend of dominance at China’s theatrical box office, the film earned $41.2 million, according to Artisan Gateway. With a running cumulative gross of $587.1 million, Ne Zha is not only China’s biggest animated blockbuster ever — it has earned more than double the total of the market’s second-biggest animated hit, Disney’s Zootopia, which topped out at $236 million in 2016.
Online ticketing service Maoyan currently projects Ne Zha to finish its run at $663 million (RMB 4.67 billion) — just a notch higher than sci-fi hit The Wandering Earth, which brought in RMB 4.65 billion in February to become China’s second-biggest film of all time.
U.S. viewers will have a chance to check out the pathfinding Chinese animation’s appeal Friday, when it debuts at select locations in North America (see here for a brief explainer of the film’s success).
Renny Harlin’s Hong Kong-set crime thriller Bodies at Rest proved no match for Ne Zha‘s mass appeal. The Hong Kong-China co-production — the former Hollywood hand’s third film as a China-based filmmaker, following Jackie Chan’s Skiptrace ($136 million in 2016) and the Alibaba Pictures flop The Legend of the Ancient Sword ($2 million last year) — opened to a respectable $18.1 million. Produced by Wanda Pictures, the pressure-cooker crime flick was well received by international critics when it opened the Hong Kong International Film Festival in March.
In the mainland, the reception has been somewhat more tepid, with the film scoring 7.5/10 with Maoyan’s users and 5.7/10 with Douban’s hipster film reviewer community.
Set in a Hong Kong morgue, the film follows a hardworking forensics expert (Nick Cheung) and his assistant (Yang Zi) when they are suddenly accosted by masked intruders who demand access to a body involved in a recent crime.
Bona Film Group’s firefighter hero saga The Bravest slipped to third place, earning $16.7 million in its third frame. With $203 million in the bank, the action flick likely would have become a mega-blockbuster if it weren’t for Ne Zha‘s simultaneous surprise breakout success.
Sony and Rovio Entertainment’s The Angry Birds Movie 2 opened in a distant fourth place with $9.8 million. Although word of mouth for the film is relatively warm, the sequel won’t come close to matching the $75.8 million China total of its predecessor.
Tencent Literature’s animated new release For the Glory similarly underperformed in Ne Zha‘s wide wake. The film, an adaptation of a wildly popular online novel about an professional e-sports player, opened to $9.3 million. Tencent Literature, a publicly traded subsidiary of the Chinese Internet giant, controls dozens of high-value Chinese comic book and online novel properties, but it hasn’t yet demonstrated much prowess in adapting its collection of popular IP into movies that people are eager to see.
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