he surprise hit of the summer in China is a homegrown animated flick with its roots in Chinese mythology.
Following its second weekend, Nezha has pulled in a whopping $348 million (2.45 billion yuan), making it the highest-grossing animated movie ever in China, surpassing Disney’s Zootopia from 2016.
That number also puts it among the top ten highest earners ever at the Chinese box office with a decent shot of perhaps unseating Avengers: Endgame at number three.
The movie follows the titular folk deity who goes from being a mischievous kid to a demon-like badass in a fight against dragons. It’s a loose retelling of a 16th-century Chinese novel, Investiture of the Gods or Fengshen Yanyi (封神演义).
China’s animated efforts have generally been panned and fail to fill theaters like those from Hollywood, so Nezha’s blockbuster success is being seen as a possible turning point for the Chinese film industry.
State media has even taken things a step further and claimed that Nezha’s reception shows how there is a new appetite in China for domestic films that showcase the nation’s traditional folk culture, highlighting how the film crushed The Lion King at the box office and in critics’ reviews.
“There’s more than just production craftsmanship behind this record-breaking Chinese animation,” Xinhua says. “There’s also a strong faith in traditional Chinese culture and a creative way of expression.”