She may not be known in the U.S., but China’s Jia Ling has recently become the highest grossing female director in the world. Her film, Hi, Mom, which released for the Chinese New Year, finally left theaters on Tuesday after grossing $838 million in three months.
The film has become the 79th highest grossing film of all time behind Marvel‘s Thor: Ragnarok and just ahead of Christopher Nolan‘s Inception. Patty Jenkins, the previous record-holder for the highest grossing female-directed film of all time, directed Wonder Woman in 2017, which earned $823 million. Hi, Mom has also become the second highest-grossing Chinese film of all time behind the 2017 action blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2, which earned $854 million during its release.
“Now that our box office has reached 5.4 billion, I want to thank you guys, but I don’t know what to say,” Ling posted to her Weibo social media account on Mother’s Day. “All of it was unexpected — unexpected to the point that although I’d been prepared to heavily promote the film, once it came out [and was so successful], I was practically embarrassed to do so.”
Hi, Mom originated as a personal theatrical play written and directed by Ling as a reflection and homage to her relationship with her mother, who passed away when Ling was just a girl. In the film, Ling plays a fictitious version of herself as a woman grieving over her mother’s accidental death who suddenly finds herself transported to 1981, where she tries to befriend her mom and direct her towards a better life.