Animators urged to do more for Chinese box office
While Chinese cinemas are achieving record sales, very few of the top scorers are animation titles.
In 2015, the country’s boxoffice takings touched 44.1 billion yuan ($7 billion), up 48 percent year-on-year. But the nearly 60 domestic animation films contributed only 4.5 percent to that amount, with Monkey King: Hero Is Back, adapted from the Chinese literary classic Journey to the West, making the most money.
It has been 90 years since the first Chinese animation film was released. The blackand-whiteUproar in the Studio is said to have been made by two brothers in Shanghai.
At the annual China International Cartoon and Animation Festival, which is running through May 2 in Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang province, filmmakers discussed ways to lift the struggling genre. Event organizers also said that some 60 animation films will be out by the end of the year.
From January to March, animation films earned 3 billion yuan in box-office revenues, according to festival official ZhuYuqing. Based on this, he says the outlook is positive.
Huang Qunfei, executive vice-president of Huaxia Film Distribution Co, one of two companies in China that are authorized to distribute foreign films, says: “More major studios and internet behemoths such as EnlightMedia, Huayi Brothers, Tencent and Alibaba have tapped into the animation industry. It gives more financial support to the business.”
Many upcoming animation films have detailed sets and storylines, trade analysts say.
Most of China’s major film studios are seeking cooperation with foreign partners, and the results have been encouraging so far.
Sun Duck, an action comedy about an alliance of armed ducks fighting an evil force, has been jointly produced by China, Russia and theUnited States.
The film, which cost 130 million yuan, is set for release on the Chinese mainland in July.
Minuscule: Mandibles from Far Away, a SinoFrench production, is another example. The film, expected to be released in 2018, revolves on insects’ endeavors and is the 200million-yuan sequel to Minuscule: Valley of Lost Ants, a 2014 hit.
Another Sino-French production, Olympia, which narrates a porcelain figurine’s “adventures”, is expected to be out in January 2018.
Historical figures from 18th-century France and ancient China were chosen to create the charactersbyaChinese team of animators, Maia Tubiana, the film’s French executive producer, says.
Domestic films, accounting for 80 percent of all new titles to be released in the next two years, are getting some attention as well.
They include: The Ladybug, Lighting Dindin, Treasure of Yu the Great, Seer Movie VI, T-Guardians and Kunta: The Floating Planet.
While trade analysts are hoping that Chinese animation filmsmake moremoney, they question the promotion of sequels to controversial films.
The Autorobots, for example, which has been involved in a plagiarism row since its release last summer, is likely to have a sequel by 2017.
Upcoming titles — Kunta: TheFloatingPlanet (top) and LightingDindin.