While Hollywood studios look to the Chinese box office as one of the biggest international locations to make a profit on their blockbusters — especially if they underdeliver domestically— the big winner there this summer is an original Chinese film.
Monster Hunt, from Shrek animator Raman Hui, debuted on July 16 and has since become the highest grossing domestic Chinese film, amassing $211 million according to box office reports.
The film, which blends CGI-animated monsters with live-action actors and locales, focuses on a world where humans and monsters live together (though, as the trailer above shows, not in perfect harmony), telling the story of Huba, a monster birthed by a human man.
Monster Hunt has been breaking records in China since its opening weekend, and there are several factors that have helped contribute to its impressive haul. The film’s cast includes many recognizable Chinese film and music stars, and was bolstered by 3D and IMAX showings. And though all of these aspects, as well as the genre-blending nature of the film, may have been big draws for moviegoers, one of the greatest factors contributing to its success may be the lack of competition from Hollywood.
China is in the midst of what’s known as a box office blackout period, in which several weeks lapse without American releases. Some of the year’s biggest hits like Jurassic World have already debuted in China, but the blackout period leaves room for locally produced films to shine. And the open field has given Monster Hunt ample space to rule.
Hui is also no stranger to producing beloved animated creations. He worked on the Shrek franchise since its inception, in roles that ranged from an original animator to co-director on Shrek the Third. He’s also had a hand in Dreamworks’ other animated properties like the Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots and the Kung Fu Panda franchise.
Monster Hunt may not be the biggest film in Chinese history – that honor belongs to Furious 7, but the film’s quick rise is a strong sign of the country’s native blockbuster potential. Or at the very least, its love of adorable monsters.