Celebrities being used again to tempt viewers to seeHollywood flick
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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