‘Successor,’ Chinese Smash Hit Comedy Film, Sets Worldwide Release

“Successor,” a comedy drama film that has taken the Chinese box office by storm, is set for an international roll-out from early next month.

Rights to the film have been picked up by CMC Pictures, the Chinese studio behind “The Meg” monster shark franchise. It will handle theatrical releases in North America, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Benelux, rolling out from Aug. 2.

“Successor” charts the ups and downs of a poor dad and a hardworking mom, living in a broken yard and seemingly having fallen behind others on the road to prosperity.

The film only opened officially in Chinese theaters on Tuesday (July 16) and earned an estimated $21 million. But it finished its first day with an $89 million cumulative, thanks to wide-scale previews that caused it to dominate China‘s most recent weekend charts. On each of Saturday and Sunday, the film enjoyed more than 140,000 screening sessions in China.

The previews nature of its Saturday release meant that “Successor” did not show up in global or weekend box office charts compiled by Comscore. But Comscore confirmed that the picture earned about $21.5 million in previews on Saturday and a further $27.7 million on Sunday. Those figures would have made “Successor” the third biggest film in the world at the weekend, behind only “Despicable Me 4” and “Inside Out 2,” despite it playing for only two days.

The film is co-directed by Yan Fei and Peng Damo (“Hello, Mr Billionaire,” “Goodbye, Mr Loser”) and stars Shen Teng, Ma Li, Shi Pengyuan, Sa Rina and Xiao Bochen. Production is by Zhang Lebin,Ma Chi,Tian Tian and Zhang Meng.

While films mostly arrive in Chinese cinemas on Fridays, local distributors have been known to aggressively change release dates in response to building demand. “Box office pre-sales [in China] exceeded expectations, so the release was moved up,” a source close to CMC told Variety. “This movie is really hilarious. From every aspect, it’s expected to be a phenomenon.”

Chinese ticketing agency Maoyan forecasts that “Successor” will continue to play strongly. It has more than doubled its estimate of the film’s potential lifetime gross, from a previous RMB1.6 billion ($220 million) to RMB3.7 billion ($513 million).

According to an official synopsis, “Ma Chenggang and Ma Chunlan, ride their donkey to work and see their son, Ma Jiye, as their only hope of turning their fate around. Jiye is very promising, excelling academically every year. He is tough and determined. But as Jiye grows up, he perceives that the people around him are becoming more and more strange.”

Chinese sources provide a list of production credits that include many of the biggest companies in the mainland China entertainment scene. They include: China Film Group, Guosi Lianrui Film, Alibaba Film Culture, Ruyi Entertainment, Kaixin Mahua Film, Maoyan Weiyin Media and Wanda Media.

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