Chinese box-office juggernaut "Ne Zha," the highest-grossing animated film ever by China, brought in more than 880,000 U.S. dollars in its second weekend in North America, pushing its North American cume to 2.67 million dollars.
According to studio figures released on Monday by U.S. analytic firm Comscore, the film, adapted from an ancient Chinese myth, grossed 888,868 dollars from 135 locations through Sunday with a modest 6,584 dollars per-theater average, climbing from No.19 to No.15 on the weekend box-office chart.
Well Go USA Entertainment released the Mandarin-language film with English and Chinese subtitles in select 3D IMAX theaters across the United States and Canada on Aug. 29, followed by other theaters on Sept. 6. The film collected 1.486 million dollars from 66 locations with a strong 22,528 U.S. dollars per-theater average in its North American debut weekend.
Jason Pfardrescher, executive vice president of Well Go USA, told Xinhua earlier that the company had lofty expectations for the North American release of "Ne Zha," adding that the film had a potential to reach 10 million dollars at the box office in North America.
Movie analyst Paul Dergarabedian at Comscore said that the success of the film in strategically-planned limited release in its opening weekend was very encouraging. He added that it would be hard to predict whether the film could win the hearts of nationwide audience if expanded onto a significant number of screens.
Earlier this year, Chinese home-grown science fiction blockbuster "The Wandering Earth" grossed 5.87 million dollars in North America, the highest-grossing Chinese film in the region for the past five years.
"Ne Zha" rose to No.2 in the box office earlier this month for all films ever screened on the Chinese mainland, second only to "Wolf Warrior 2." As of Monday, data from China's movie-ticketing platform Maoyan showed that "Ne Zha" grossed around 4.8 billion yuan (674 million U.S. dollars) in 46 days since its July 26 debut on the Chinese mainland.
Directed and written by Yang Yu (stage name Jiao Zi) in his feature film directorial debut, this home-grown animation features a popular young hero from ancient Chinese legends and classics such as "Journey to the West."
In the story, Ne Zha, born with unique powers, finds himself an outcast that has been hated and feared; destined by prophecy to devastate the world, the boy must choose between good and evil to break the shackles of fate and become the hero he wants to be.
In a video clip tweeted by Well Go USA, Jiao Zi shared his excitement with American moviegoers about the film's release in the United States.
"A hero from the East has come across the ocean," he said, encouraging animation fans to go and see the film.
Reviews from a few local critics turned out quite positive. Michael Rechtshaffen, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that the film brought "an empowering message to America."
"Grafting familiar Disney and DreamWorks tropes onto a tapestry of traditional Chinese legend and lore, the adventure entertains with a title character who could be the spawn of Chucky and Stitch, from 'Lilo &Stitch,'" he added.
"Ne Zha leads up to a soaring finale, both with glorious large-scale action that may remind you of The Matrix Revolutions and with an emotional 'oomph' that makes sure that the fireworks matter. The whole thing is a visual spectacular (the dragons are amazing), with glorious imagery that popped on the IMAX 3-D screen," commented film critic Scott Mendelson for Forbes.
On the U.S. review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, "Ne Zha" held an approval rating of 78 percent and an audience score of 97 percent as of Tuesday.