Old tales told in captivating new ways
TICKET SALES FOR NE ZHA, a recently released domestic animation film, had reached 4.24 billion yuan ($599 million) by Wednesday, exceeding that of Avengers: Endgame. Indeed, all the Top 3 performers at the Chinese box office are domestic films. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:
The two films that rank first and second are Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth. All three are totally "Made in China": they are directed by Chinese directors, shot by Chinese video teams, as well as based on novels written by Chinese authors. And they have made the most money in the Chinese market.
That phenomenon reflects, first of all, that Chinese audiences are increasingly more interested in their own stories than in foreign ones.
The three Chinese films are familiar and the tale of Ne Zha is among the most popular stories in China. In an age when people can easily gain access to foreign culture, it is natural for stories of their own domestic culture to be more appealing.
Besides, unlike the ticket sales champion and its runner-up, Ne Zha tells a story that is an integral part of traditional Chinese culture. But instead of simply telling the story once again with modern technology, the new film has rewritten the story so it better reflects the values of modern society.
The somewhat violent parts in the old story, as well as the parts that promote personal revenge, have been deleted and replaced by scenes that promote sincerity toward each other.
That's partly why Ne Zha's daily ticket sales rose day by day in the first few days. It has appealed to the hearts of the modern audiences with values acceptable to them. No wonder they have given it high-approval and are willing to recommend it to others.
In other words, Ne Zha's success lies, to a large extent, on its ability to make traditional Chinese culture relevant to modern society. Ne Zha has not been screened overseas yet, but there is ample reason to believe the film will be able to move the hearts of overseas audiences, as on social media networks there are already comments anticipating its arrival.
There are plenty of stories like that of Ne Zha which can appeal to modern audiences if well told in a modern way.