China Box Office: Animated Film ‘Green Snake’ Worms Its Way to No. 1

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“Green Snake,” the Chinese animated sequel to the folktale adaptation “White Snake,” slithered past propaganda films to the top of the box office this weekend with a $29.7 million debut, according to Maoyan figures.

The platform currently predicts that “Green Snake” will go on to gross $77.5 million, which would make it more successful than its 2019 predecessor’s $61.6 million.

The new sequel brought in $2.6 million from Imax screens in China, which accounted for 9.1% of its total weekend sales. That makes it Imax’s highest indexing local animated title of all time in China, beating the 2019 breakout hit “Ne Zha.”

The film is the latest work from the ever-improving local animation studio Light Chaser, and once again employs a video game-like aesthetic to tell the constantly reprised fable dating back to the Tang dynasty. The tale recounts the story of two snakes who develop super powers after achieving immortality and become able to transform into women. They meet various trials after one of them falls happily in love with a mortal but shocks him when her snake identity is suddenly revealed.

In second place this week was the patriotic pandemic film “Chinese Doctors.” It grossed a further $17.5 million to bring its cume up to $176 million of what Maoyan projects will be a $211 million total — very likely making it the most successful of the nationalistic films celebrating the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary this month.

Local animated adventure “Agent Backhom: Kings Bear” came in third with a $4.77 million opening weekend. It was supposed to debut last February, but had its outing pushed back due to the pandemic. After over a year of build-up, it managed to shuffle in ahead of local comedy “The Day We Lit Up The Sky.” The later trailed behind with a $3.19 million second weekend.

The new Shanghai-set youth drama “Top of the City,” which sees men donning knight’s armor to fight each other at the top of the city’s highest skyscraper in order to save a sick child, rose in its debut to lesser heights with a $1.5 million debut, hitting fifth place.

It nonetheless beat the $1.18 million weekend for propaganda flick “1921.” The big-budget, star-studded spectacle has brought in only $74.6 million so far, with its appeal waning rather quickly despite receiving top billing and a massive promotional push from Chinese media. This week, the historical re-telling of the Communist party’s founding was only a smidge ahead of a local animation geared towards very young children, the name of which translates to “The Adventures of Qiao Tiger on Magic Island.” That film sprung into sixth with a $1.13 million three-day start.

The Chinese box office has struggled through the usually brisk months of June and July in the absence of either local or foreign strong films. No other movies grossed more than than $1 million this week.

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