Chinese animated film "Jiang Ziya," also known as "Legend of Deification," opened Thursday in a limited theatrical release in North America on the occasion of China's National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival.
The long-awaited animated feature is directed by Cheng Teng and Li Wei, and produced by Beijing Enlight Pictures, the company which also produced international blockbuster "Ne Zha." The latter topped the 2019 China box office chart, grossing more than 5 billion yuan (around 736 million U.S. dollars).
"Jiang Ziya" will be released by Well Go USA Entertainment in Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, San Diego, Vancouver, Toronto and a few other major cities across the United States and Canada.
Jiang Ziya, is a mythological figure from the novel "Fengshen Yanyi," or "The Investiture of the Gods," a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) book that inspired "Ne Zha," the Chinese film about its eponymous hero.
To earn his place amongst the gods, celestial army commander Jiang Ziya must vanquish a terrifying fox demon threatening the very existence of the mortal realm. After learning the creature's fate is tied to that of a young girl, Jiang Ziya disobeys Heaven's edict and spares the demon, resulting in his banishment to the mortal realm.
"Jiang Ziya" was released synchronously in China on Friday. Despite of the limit of 75 percent of theater attendance due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film dominated the domestic box-office with a massive opening day gross of 357 million yuan (around 52 million U.S. dollars), breaking the opening day record of Chinese animated film held by "Ne Zha" with 144 million yuan (around 21 million U.S. dollars), according to the major Chinese film database Maoyan.
The film currently boasts a rating of 8.5 points out of 10 on the Maoyan platform and a rating of 7.1 on Douban, a review platform.
"We are extremely pleased and surprised by the excellent box office performance of 'Jiang Ziya' in China," said Annie Walker, chairman of Well Go USA, noting the influence of the pandemic on film industry and theater operators.
"Although theater operators have implemented rigorous cleaning and safety protocols, including social distancing and reducing auditorium capacities, for the reopening after months-long closure, many moviegoers are still skeptical about safety in cinemas amid the pandemic." she told Xinhua.
"We hope blockbuster movies, such as 'Jiang Ziya,' will help attract more moviegoers to return to the cinemas," she added.
Well Go USA Entertainment is a theatrical and home entertainment distribution label specialized in bringing top Asian films to North American markets.