Chinese streaming giant iQiyi has made 2019 blockbuster animated film Ne Zha available in nine South East Asian markets. VIP subscribers in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei and Cambodia from Sunday were given exclusive access to the $726M worldwide grosser which is China’s biggest toon ever and the No. 2 local title of all time.
The move, which comes amid global theater closures due to the coronavirus, could help iQiyi expand its international footprint. The overseas version of the iQiyi app has to date launched more than 2,700 films, including new releases and premium originals, the company said on Sunday, though subscriber numbers were not disclosed. The Ne Zha figure from classic Chinese fairy tales is widely known among young people in the South East Asia region, and since its launch on iQiyi in China, the film has been among the Top 10 most played movies on the platform, with an average viewer rating of 9 out of 10.
From director/writer Yang Yu (aka Jiaozi), Ne Zha was China’s first 3D animated feature released in IMAX. The fantasy from Enlight Coloroom Picture, Cocoa Bean Animation and October Culture Animation, is based on an ancient myth about the son of a deity who defies his fate to become a hero and defender of the innocent. In July 2019, it set opening records for an animated title in the Middle Kingdom. WellGo USA handled the domestic theatrical release.
Ne Zha was also China’s entry for Best International Feature Film at this year’s Oscars, though it did not make the shortlist.
Enlight Coloroom has previously partnered with iQiyi to launch such animated pics as Big Fish & Begonia, and the Rainbow Sea Jupiter Crisis series.