Released in January, Little Door Gods pulled in nearly 28 million yuan (US$4.33 million) on its opening day and set a new record for a Chinese-produced animation movie.
If the looks of its characters remind you of some blockbuster movies by animation giants such as Pixar and DreamWorks, don’t be surprised because some members of its production crew had actually worked for those Californian companies.
The Chinese producers’ willingness to invest in top talent reflects their growing confidence in the potential of such films.
In the past, kids were considered the main audience of animation movies, but now adults are quickly becoming the core target as the number of adult lovers of animation films has been increasing rapidly, fueling box-office gains last year and possibly this year too, a Hong Kong Trade Development Council report notes.
The popularity of movies like Zootopia has been attributed to their storylines that appeal specifically to adults. They explore serious life topics: Should people follow their dreams? Do people who stick to their dreams really succeed?
Realizing the potential of the adult viewer market, Chinese film makers have been repositioning their works accordingly.
The success of Hollywood productions like Mulan and Kung Fu Panda showed animation with Chinese elements are gaining wide acceptance, giving local film houses great confidence to vie for bigger share of the market.
If done right, there is certainly treasure to be found.
Last year, China produced 686 films, 51 or about 7 percent were animation, according to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
But in terms of box office revenue, animation films pulled in 4.5 billion yuan, 11 percent of the total.
China’s animation brand licensing market was worth 21.6 billion in 2014, and is expected to keep growing in the next few years.
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