Big Fish & Begonia
SC Films International [U.K.] | Loews 650 Screenings: Wed. Nov. 2 at 1:30 p.m. & Fri. Nov. 4 at 3:30 p.m. — Broadway Cineplex 2
The international growth of animation has been particularly strong in Russia, where Wizart Animation has scored a worldwide hit with its Snow Queen franchise and followed it up with Sheep and Wolves, the TV series Yoko and plenty of other plans for the future.
Of particular interest is Wizart’s collaboration with China-based Flame Node on the Snow Queen franchise, which helped the company penetrate that market with a success that is the envy of many non-Chinese studios.
We caught up with Executive Producer Vladimir Nikolaev for an update on Wizart’s activities.
Animation Magazine: What is going on now with the Snow Queen franchise?
Vladimir Nikolaev: Currently, it’s developing on a very active level. We’re finishing the production of The Snow Queen 3. Its international release is going to take place at the end of 2016. Besides, we’ve started to work on a TV show for the Snow Queen franchise. The show will have 52 episodes, and its target audience is going to consist of children aged 7-9. We’re also discussing the joint production and starting our work on The Snow Queen 4. We believe in its success, because this franchise already has big perspectives. Animag: Where in the production process Snow Queen 3? Nikolaev: The Snow Queen 3 is now at the final stage of production — which means our current job is final rendering, which is followed by composing and mixing.
Animag: How is Wizart planning to use this movie to grow the franchise in new territories and new market sectors such as live entertainment, merchandising, etc.?
Nikolaev: Now we’re intensively developing the merchandizing. We’ve started making augmented- and virtual-reality games, which, in our point of view, contributes to the promotion and, as we hope, will become an additional income item in the future. At the present time, we’re actively moving forward in new markets. We’ve signed a single agreement with California Film, which will enable us to release the movie in all of Latin America at the same time. This is a big achievement.
Animag: What attracted Wizart to China as a market?
Nikolaev: Today, China is the second largest international market, and it’s very probable that it’s going to become the first in the future. So, of course, it means money, so using it is a good idea. This market is more or less free, so it’s easier to move there than in the North American one. If we stick there now, it’s going to be a huge achievement not only for Wizart, but also for the whole of Russian animation.
Animag: How did the collaboration with Flame Node in China come about?
Nikolaev: First, it’s a developer, just like us. We understand each other, so it’s convenient for us on the level of understanding technologies, development and promotion. That’s why we understand how they’re moving, and they understand how we’re moving. And we speak the same language.
Then, Flame Node had quotes and was interested in the purchase of our products in China — Flame Node suggested terms that suited us, so we agreed.
Animag: How is that collaboration working? Which company is responsible for which elements of the movie?
Nikolaev: The Chinese side is responsible for a part of financing, while our side’s responsible for the whole creative activities. The Chinese side also makes a part of animation as well as partial rendering and compositing.
Animag: What are the advantages to collaborating with a Chinese company?
Nikolaev: Our price formation is quite similar, and it’s also very important that they’re ready to listen to us. It’s much more difficult to make an American company work with us — they’re so used to doing things their own way that in fact they just tell us what to do. Unlike that, we can be equal partners with the Chinese.
Animag: What are at the plans for distributing the new Snow Queen movie in China and making it as successful as possible at the box office and as a franchise?
Nikolaev: Now we’re waiting only for The Snow Queen 2 distribution, and we’re planning The Snow Queen 3 distribution approximately in the spring 2017. It’ll be done in co-production already — that is, as a Chinese project.
A good box-office requires that the promotional campaign should be started in advance. Usually, independent movies start their promo activities one or two months before the release, which isn’t enough to get the loyal audience. We need to do it earlier, take non-standard steps — like augmented reality (projects) and their language adaptation for the Chinese users.
Animag: Do you expect to continue to collaborate with Flame Node? Are you open to working with other Chinese companies?
Nikolaev: We’re open for cooperation with other Chinese companies. We’re already working in this direction. An example of our joint projects with China is a short movie titled The Silk Road, which is going to be released next year.
Animag: What is next for the franchise after the third movie?
Nikolaev: We’re going to make Queen 4.
Animag: What other projects working on right now?
Nikolaev: We’re currently working on the Sheep and Wolves sequel and TV show Yoko. That’s all for now, but we’re planning to open one more franchise in the spring. [