Celebri­ties be­ing used again to tempt view­ers to seeHol­ly­wood flick

China Daily (Canada) - - CANADA - By XUFAN xufan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Hol­ly­wood is again us­ing Chi­nese celebri­ties to spread its in­flu­ence in the lu­cra­tive main­land film mar­ket. This is the sec­ond such case in Au­gust.

In this in­stance, 20th Cen­tury’s forth­com­ing an­i­mated film Ice Age: Col­li­sion Course is us­ing lo­cal stars to do voiceovers for its Man­darin ver­sion.

ShenTeng, MaLi andChang Yuan from China’s pop­u­lar theater stage group Mahua FunAge did the voice-overs for the male weasel Buck, the fe­male ground sloth Brooke and the yoga-lov­ing llama Shangri in the movie.

Mahua, which was founded in 2003, has pro­duced 26 come­dies and per­formed more than 4,000 shows across the coun­try.

Ear­lier this month, Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures’ The Se­cret Life of Pets fea­tured the voices of TV show hostHe Jiong and co­me­dian Chen Peisi in its Chi­nese ver­sion.

Mean­while, Shen, who is fol­lowed by 4.3 mil­lion fans on the Twit­ter-like Sina Weibo, says his cur­rent ef­fort is the first time he has lent his voice to aHol­ly­wood tent­pole, and it was a big chal­lenge.

“Buck is a funny but neu­rotic char­ac­ter. I had to use allmy ex­pe­ri­ence to do the voiceover. It was much more dif­fi­cult than I imag­ined,” says the 39-year-old ac­tor, who achieved overnight fame thanks to last year’s dark­horse smash hit Good­bye Mr Loser.

Ma, also the lead ac­tress of Good­bye Mr Loser, says her voice adds a Chi­nese fla­vor to the sloth, voiced by Bri­tish singer Jessie J in the English ver­sion.

The lat­est film — the fi­nale of the Ice Age fran­chise — which has lasted for 14 years, re­leas­ing one in­stall­ment ev­ery three or four years, will open in Chi­nese the­aters on Aug 23.

To date, the se­ries, which cen­ters on pre­his­toric an­i­mals, has ac­cu­mu­lated global box-of­fice tak­ings of more than $3 bil­lion, mak­ing it one of the best-per­form­ing an­i­mated fran­chises in his­tory.

In the lat­est film, the an­i­mals en­counter their big­gest threat. The squir­rel Scrat ac­ci­den­tally sets off a se­ries of cos­mic events that trans­form and threaten the Ice Age World while in the pur­suit of his elu­sive acorn, spark­ing a cri­sis and forc­ing the an­i­mal pro­tag­o­nists to em­bark on a thrilling mi­gra­tion.

De­spite the pre­vi­ous four films in the fran­chise re­ceiv­ing crit­i­cal ac­claim in China — an av­er­age of more than 8 points out of 10 on the re­view site Douban.com— the new­movie may not be as pop­u­lar as the pre­vi­ous ti­tles.

A month af­ter be­ing re­leased in North Amer­ica, IMDb shows the film has scored only 5.8 points out of 10, and Rot­ten To­ma­toes only gives it 3.9 of 10.

Both the English web­sites are fol­lowed by Chi­nese movie fans.

Lo­cal feed­back also in­di­cates main­stream movie­go­ers are not quite in­ter­ested in the Chi­nese celebrity-pol­ished ver­sion.

“I don’t care who does the Man­darin ver­sion as I will only see the orig­i­nal English fea­ture,” writes a ne­ti­zen on the por­tal 163.com, com­ment­ing on an ar­ti­cle on the movie.

Sep­a­rately, some in­dus­try watch­ers say given that the av­er­age main­land viewer is 21.5 years old, most of them are more than will­ing to watch the English ver­sion as they can un­der­stand the di­a­logue.

“The Man­darin ver­sion is good for par­ents who ac­com­pany their chil­dren to see the film,” says Wang Xiao­jing, a Bei­jing-based critic.

“Some lo­cal ex­pres­sions in the trans­lated di­a­logues will also strike a chord with Chi­nese.”

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