Film­mak­ers eye wider view­er­ship with en­gag­ing con­tent

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By XU­FAN

China’s strug­gling an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try has for long been crit­i­cized for pro­duc­tions that don’t at­tract adult au­di­ences. But this sum­mer, things seem to be chang­ing.

At least six of the 12 Chi­nese an­i­ma­tion films, which have been re­leased since June or are about to hit the the­aters, are tar­get­ing a wider view­er­ship, go­ing by their sto­ry­lines.

Big Fish& Be­go­nia, de­spite the feed­back, is a break­through film in this re­gard.

Rooted in an­cient Chi­nese myths and le­gends, the tale has touched the hearts of young women in par­tic­u­lar.

Rock Dog, sym­bol­iz­ing rock star Zheng Jun’s spirit, has got a thumbs-up from fam­i­lies for its in­spi­ra­tional con­tent.

And War­rior vs Dragon, a Chi­nese car­toon adap­ta­tion of the video game World of War­craft, is en­tic­ing view­ers in their 30s, who see the movie as a re­flec­tion of their com­ing-of-age years when they were ad­dicted to video games.

This kind of cul­tural res­o­nance can also be seen in the up­com­ingMcDull, Rise of the Rice Cooker. This year marks the 20th an­niver­sary of the birth ofMcDull, a pig dream­ing of be­com­ing a su­per­hero.

Throne of Elves is an­other film that shows the Chi­nese an­i­ma­tors’ urge to reach a wider au­di­ence.

At test screen­ings be­ing held in 50 cities, the pro­duc­ers want peo­ple born in the 1970s and ’80s to watch the film.

In the mean­time, the mak­ers of an­i­ma­tion films are in­creas­ingly us­ing celebri­ties to do voice-overs or theme songs for their films to at­tract au­di­ences.

For in­stance, you have Hong Kong megas­tar Ea­son Chan singing in Big Fish & Be­go­nia and award-win­ning singer Xue Zhiqian in Throne of Elves.

For in­dus­try watch­ers, the tran­si­tion is a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion, spawned year’s smash hit King: Hero Is Back.

AsWang Chang­tian, pres­i­dent of China’s largest pri­vate en­ter­tain­ment firm, En­light Me­dia, which has in­vested in 22 an­i­ma­tion films since last year, says: “Ob­vi­ously, do­mes­tic film­mak­ers want their ti­tles to be fam­ily-friendly, but not only for chil­dren.”

Say­ing that an­i­ma­tion films will soon ac­count for around 15 per­cent of China’s box-of­fice tak­ings, Wang says fam­ily-friendly ti­tles or youth-fo­cused movies will be­come main­stream con­tent in China, just like in the United States and Ja­pan.

But he says: “Chi­nese adults have yet to get into the habit of watch­ing an­i­ma­tion films in cine­mas,” and adds that cinema chains are also bi­ased against do­mes­tic an­i­ma­tion films, lead­ing to the much fewer screen­ings com­pared with live-ac­tion ti­tles.

Statis­tics show China’s to­tal out­put of an­i­ma­tion con­tent rose from 21,800 min­utes in 2004 to 260,000 min­utes in 2011, de­spite a slight fall in more re­cent years.

But Lu Shengzhang, an an­i­ma­tion pro­fes­sor at the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Uni­ver­sity of China, says: “Qual­ity does not equal quan­tity.”

He says Chi­nese an­i­ma­tors have to fo­cus on cre­ativ­ity and orig­i­nal­ity to pro­duce qual­ity films, which will drawview­ers of all ages. by last Mon­key

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Xue Zhiqian (top), who sings for the an­i­ma­tion movie Thro­neof Elves (above), at­tends a pro­mo­tional event in Bei­jing.

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