'Kung Fu Panda' franchise to be available on portal

China’s biggest online video streaming site, Youku.com, has struck a deal with DreamWorks Animation for online distribution of the “Kung Fu Panda” film franchise, marking the first time the studio’s films will be available online in China.

Both “Kung Fu Panda” titles are available for on-demand viewing on the Youku Premium paid content platform and will subsequently bow on Youku’s Hollywood Movie Channel after the paid viewing window closes, Youku said in a statement.

Youku is effectively China’s answer to YouTube, which is banned in China. The company listed on the NYSE in December. Earlier this month, Youku reported its second quarter revenue nearly tripled from a year earlier, though it continued to operate at a loss.

The “Kung Fu Panda” franchise has grossed more than $1.25 billion worlwide to date. With $92 million in B.O., “Kung Fu Panda 2″ was China’s biggest movie in the first half of the year despite dealing with kung fu, pandas and Chinese history and folklore, subjects normally considered the exclusive terrain of Chinese filmmakers. The DreamWorks Animation artistic team visited China to obtain cultural references for the pics.

“It is particularly satisfying that Chinese audiences have responded so enthusiastically to the cultural references within our franchise, and we look forward to making both ‘Kung Fu Panda’ movies available to more and more consumers in China through Youku,” said Kelley Avery, DreamWorks Animation head of worldwide franchise strategy and distribution.

Youku chairman-CEO Victor Koo said agreements like the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise deal allow Youku to expand on the traditional movie-release roadmap.”Both titles have a proven track record of success with Chinese audiences, and we look forward to expanding our alignment with Hollywood studios in the future to offer even more compelling content,” he said.

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