Having grossed close to $700 million and broken all kinds of records in China, Ne Zha is now making a splash in North America. The cg feature opened last weekend with a limited run across 66 IMAX theaters, managing to pull in $1.19 million. That comes to a per-theater average of $18,061 — a weekend best among all films playing in the U.S. on five or more screens.
These figures don’t include Labor Day takings. What’s more, the film’s run will be expanded Friday. While Ne Zha can’t possibly replicate its stunning performance in its home country, it now looks set for a strong showing in the U.S. and Canada. It is already among the all-time top ten performers for its distributor Well Go USA, which has released a wealth of well-regarded Asian movies on these shores.
“We’re obviously thrilled with the start and eager to expand on September 6,” Jason Pfardrescher, Well Go USA’s svp digital and theatrical distribution, told Deadline. “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.”
Ne Zha reimagines a legend, widely known in China, about a boy who is born with demonic powers and fated to die young. In his review for The New York Times, Ben Kenigsberg noted that the movie “assumes a passing acquaintance with that history.”
The elaborate, effects-laden visuals represent a sea change for animation in China, where Ne Zha has received very positive reviews alongside its striking commercial success. It recently overtook live-action blockbuster The Wandering Earth to become the second-highest-grossing film in Chinese history, behind Wolf Warrior 2 ($854 million).
For a list of theaters currently showing (and soon showing) Ne Zha, head to the distributor’s website.
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