China has been a fan­tas­tic mar­ket ... con­sis­tently pro­duc­ing block­busters. We hope can be­come a block­buster here.”

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing his re­ported $6.4-mil­lion salary in 2014 and Dream­Works’ in­dus­try sta­tus as one of the largest in­de­pen­dent an­i­mated film stu­dios in­Hol­ly­wood.

Katzen­berg says Home is about the ad­ven­tures of a young girl and a fugi­tive alien who are look­ing for the teenager’s mother who has been taken away. He says the theme of the film is “re­united”.

“That is the big theme be­cause it (fo­cuses on) a daugh­ter search­ing to be re­united with her mom,” he ex­plains. “Tip be­comes in­de­pen­dent and re­source­ful dur­ing the jour­ney. You don’t see those kind of char­ac­ters of­ten in an­i­mated movies, most of which usu­ally fea­ture princesses and true love sto­ries.”

Katzen­berg says Dream­Works chose to adapt the 2007 chil­dren’s book, TheTrueMean­ing of Smek­day by Adam Rex, into a movie be­cause it is “unique and spe­cial”.

“Most alien pro­duc­tions are very se­ri­ous. Home is sweet and heart­warm­ing, which makes it dif­fer­ent from all the other alien-themed films we’ve ever seen,” he says.

Ac­tu­ally, Dream­Works de­cided very quickly to adapt the book.

Tim John­son, the film’s Amer­i­can direc­tor, first brought the story to the at­ten­tion of Dream­Works.

“I bought the book to read to my boys, who were 5 and 7 years old at that time. At first, I wasn’t think­ing about it. But in a cou­ple of hours, I started to re­al­ize it could be a pretty good an­i­mated movie,” re­calls John­son, who says that years of work­ing with Dream­Works has pushed him to al­ways look for ideas.

The vet­eran an­i­mated film­maker, fa­mous for Antz (1998) and Over the Hedge (2006), was so ex­cited by his dis­cov­ery he sent an e-mail to Katzen­berg at 2 am, telling him he had found an “amaz­ing book”.

“It was a week­end. And by Mon­day, we al­ready had the (adap­ta­tion) rights of the book,” he says, laugh­ing.

How­ever, the direc­tor says he faced many “ob­sta­cles” when at­tempt­ing to turn the book into a movie, in­clud­ing cast­ing the voice ac­tors, writ­ing the script and trans­form­ing the vis­ual images.

When Jim Par­sons, popular in China for play­ing the char­ac­ter Shel­don in the hit se­ries The Big Bang The­ory, and Bar­ba­dian singer Ri­hanna agreed to dub Home, the direc­tor de­scribed it as “get­ting the green lights”.

“I was so sur­prised to hear that Jimmy is so popular in China. He is quite dif­fer­ent from both Oh and Shel­don, who doesn’t un­der­stand peo­ple and pushes them away. Oh crazily loves friends and re­ally wants to have a fam­ily,” says John­son.

“But Jimmy is quite re­laxed and per­son­able, and he even moves quite dif­fer­ently (from Shel­don).”

When asked to judge the Chi­nese voice ac­tors’ per­for­mance, John­son says he searched for their pre­vi­ous work and was ex­cited to find both of them have “mu­si­cal and ex­cep­tional voices”.

John­son says Home is dubbed in 40 lan­guages and has 52 ver­sions, as some coun­tries share the same lan­guage but cast dif­fer­ent voice ac­tors.

Li shot to fame in the Chi­nese re­al­ity show Su­per Girl, but has been crit­i­cized by Chi­nese me­dia for her “ag­gres­sive” voice, far re­moved from Ri­hanna’s “soft” style. John­son, how­ever, gives her his warm sup­port.

“Whenan an­i­mated movie trav­els to an­other coun­try such as China, it doesn’t need some­one to im­i­tate the English ver­sion, but some­one to make the char­ac­ters in their in­ter­pre­ta­tion ... It can be their job to tell the story in their unique way,” he says.

“The movie is about mak­ing a judg­ment about some­body and then find­ing the judg­ment was done too quickly,” says the direc­tor.

Inthe movie the aliens “Boov” find their big­gest en­emy “the Gorg” are not ac­tu­ally evil. Per­haps Chi­nese au­di­ences will find the lo­cal ac­tors are not so bad af­ter all. Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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