BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- As of Wednesday afternoon, Chinese animated film "Ne Zha" had grossed a box office revenue of 4.243 billion yuan (about 602 million U.S. dollars), replacing "Avengers: Endgame" in third place on the box office chart covering all films ever screened on the Chinese mainland.
"Avengers: Endgame" grossed 4.241 billion yuan on the Chinese mainland, according to the China Movie Data Information Network.
Ranking ahead of "Ne Zha" are China's homemade action movie "Wolf Warrior 2" (5.6 billion yuan) and sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth" (4.6 billion yuan).
It is another big sleeper hit this year after "The Wandering Earth," smashing the popular assumption of a 1-billion-yuan glass ceiling for Chinese animated features. The previous top-grossing Chinese animation film was "Monkey King: Hero is Back," which earned 956 million yuan in 2015.
Shi Chuan, professor at Shanghai Theatre Academy and deputy head of the Shanghai Film Association, said the box office mirable of "Ne Zha" was propped up by China's booming movie market, which has added about 30,000 new screens since 2015 to surpass 60,000 at the end of 2018, ranking first in the world.
"While China's movie market expands in volume, different genres of domestic films are increasing their appeals," Shi said. "In the past, the highest-grossing films were mostly Hollywood blockbusters, but now we see Chinese genres (in the top positions)."
While admitting the imperfection of "Ne Zha," the professor said the film's resounding success has bolstered confidence for China's entire animation industry.
Wang Lei, a producer of several Chinese animations, however, sounded a note of caution by saying the success of "Ne Zha" reflects the scarcity of quality Chinese animation films.
"Animations as good as 'Monkey King: Hero is Back' and 'Ne Zha' are still in short supply, which explains the enthusiasm of Chinese movie-goers," Wang said.