China ends summer film season with unstoppable 'Ne Zha'

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 2, 2019
Adjust font size:
A still from Chinese animated feature "Ne Zha" [Image courtesy of Beijing Enlight Media]

China's summer film season was saved by the phenomenal animated feature "Na Zha", while the total gross earnings of the seasonal films slightly declined year-on-year.

The summer season in China normally refers to a period when Chinese students are on summer vacation from July to August. This year, all the films screened in the time span earned a total of 13.48 billion yuan ($1.88 billion), a 2.3% drop compared with last year.

However, if the earnings in June could be counted in the summer gross, then total box office earnings would reach 17.6 billion yuan ($2.45 billion), a 1.5% increase year-on-year.

The decline is partially due to the withdrawal of several highly anticipated summer blockbusters-to-be. Also, some major films such as "Looking Up" and "Shanghai Fortress" under-performed after debut amid negative reviews.

The lukewarm market then was full of Hollywood blockbusters such as "Spider-Man: Far From Home", "The Lion King" and "Hobbs & Shaw" in a season long deemed more favorable for domestic-made films.

Newbie animated feature director Jiao Zi's "Ne Zha" saved the declining market by setting a stunning pace after nationwide release on July 26 and set the market on fire like never before. Unexpectedly, it reached to much broader domestic audience that traditionally has seen animation as "kids' stuff".

By Sunday, it had grossed 4.71 billion yuan ($658.79 million) in China alone, making it the most popular animated film in Chinese movie history, the biggest film for 2019, surpassing the Chinese sci-fi phenomenon "The Wandering Earth". It is at present also the second highest grossing film ever in the domestic market, second only to the Chinese action movie "Wolf Warrior 2" that took in 5.68 billion yuan ($854 million).

"Ne Zha" has now embarked to conquer overseas markets, opening in North America during last weekend. Despite being limited to only 66 IMAX theaters, it made $1.19 million, which was the weekend's highest-grossing specialty, according to The distributor Well Go USA said they are "obviously thrilled" with the start and eager to expand the release on Sept. 6.

Posters of "Ne Zha", "The Bravest", "The White Storm: Drug Lords" and "Hobbs & Shaw", the four films raking in more than 1 billion yuan at Chinese box offices. [Image/]

Jason Pfardrescher, Well Go USA executive vice president, said on Sunday that "What really has us excited is many of the theaters we're in don't typically play Chinese language films, which is a clear indicator that we're reaching a wider audience beyond Chinese Americans. We'll continue to expand across the country over the next few weeks."

In China's summer season, three other films grossed more than 1 billion yuan, which were Tony Chan's "The Bravest", Herman Yau's "The White Storm: Drug Lords" and David Leitch's "Hobbs & Shaw". In June, Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man: Far From Home" became the highest grossing Marvel standalone superhero film in China, grossing 1.41 billion yuan ($197.28 million). 

China is now ready for the next explosive season expected to happen around National Day on Oct.1 with tent-pole films such as "Me and My Motherland", "The Climbers", "The Captain" and "Mao 1949" that are set to dominate the market from September to October and resonate with Chinese people's memories and patriotism to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. 

Top 10 films in China's summer season (July-August):

1. "Ne Zha" 4.68 billion yuan ($654 million)  

2. "The Bravest" 1.63 billion yuan ($228 million)

3. "The White Storm: Drug Lords" 1.29 billion yuan ($181 million)

4. "Hobbs & Shaw" 1.11 billion yuan ($155 million)

5. "Looking Up" 870 million yuan ($122 million)

6. "The Lion King" 828 million yuan ($116 million)

7. "Line Walker 2" 683 million yuan ($95.43 million)

8. "Bodies at Rest" 178 million yuan ($24.87 million)

9. "The Secret Life of Pets 2" 153 million yuan ($21.38 million)

10. "The Angry Birds Movie 2" 128 million yuan ($17.88 million)


Note: The statistics above are totals by Aug. 31. Several films, such as "Ne Zha" and "Hobbs & Shaw," are still showing onwards into September so the tallies above are not the final numbers. 

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from