By AMID AMIDI
The Lion King was no match for the animated feature Nezha, which launched its China box office run with $91.5 million, an all-time animation debut record in the country.
Nezha toppled the previous record for an animated film opening weekend – $66 million for Despicable Me 3 — and looks poised to challenge Disney’s Zootopia for the all-time Chinese animation record ($236 million). On Saturday, when Nezhaearned $33 million, it claimed the single-day animation record in the country, which had previously been held by Zootopia ($25 million).
Directed and written by Yang “Jiaozi” Yu, Nezha is based on a well-known mythical figure from Chinese folk religion. Produced by Enlight Media, it’s also the first Chinese animated feature released in IMAX format. It picked up $7.7 million of its total earnings from IMAX screenings.
In its third Chinese weekend, The Lion King earned $5.8 million for a $116 million total.
Nezha’s tale has previously been adapted to animation multiple times in China, most notably in the 1979 animated feature Prince Nezha’s Triumph Against Dragon King and the 2003 tv series The Legend of Nezha.