Regional Toon Spotlight: China

Domestic market expands in face of U.S. fare

BEIJING — Animation is a real buzzword in China these days, and biz mandarins in the government are obsessed with finding ways of competing with foreign product, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the hugely popular Japanese anime and manga skeins beloved of Chinese rugrats.

At Annecy, the Chinese entries are on the less populist side. In the short-film category, China’s entry is “The Winter Solstice,” by Chen Xi and An Xi, in which a man reminisces shortly before his death, while Mao Xuebing’s “A Bacchanal at Home” uses traditional wine culture in China to explore family issues in a comic way over 104 episodes.

With 367 million people under the age of 18, there is great potential for the Chinese toon market, and the biggest hit in animation this year was Zhao Chongbang’s “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf,” produced by SMG, Guangdong Creative Power Entertaining and Beijing UYoung Media.

A simply told story about a battle of wits between a herd of goats and a couple of wolves, pic earned more than 80 million yuan ($11.8 million) at a cost of just $880,000, coming in second only to “Kung Fu Panda.” Such remarkable success for a relatively low-budget project helps soothe fears that China is not good at making its own toons.

By tapping into a strong fanbase reared on 500 episodes of a TV skein aired on 50 channels nationwide, “Pleasant Goat” beat out another successful homegrown animated film, “Storm Rider – Clash of Evils,” in 2008, which still made a respectable $4.8 million. A sequel is in the works, and is due by next Chinese New Year.

In 2008-09, China was producing 324 animated skeins, up by 66% from the previous 12 months. There are now more than 5,600 toon companies employing at least 200,000 people having produced 130,000-plus minutes (2,100-plus hours) of animation. Other locally made favorites include “The Story of Hongmao and Lantu” and “Calabash Boys.”

More Film

  • 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Teases Spider-Ham

    'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Teases Spider-Ham, Other Webspinners

    BEIJING — Animation is a real buzzword in China these days, and biz mandarins in the government are obsessed with finding ways of competing with foreign product, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the hugely popular Japanese anime and manga skeins beloved of Chinese rugrats. At Annecy, the Chinese entries are on the less populist side. In […]

  • Venom Comic-Con

    'Venom' Creators Promise 'Huge World,' Tease Spider-Man Fight

    BEIJING — Animation is a real buzzword in China these days, and biz mandarins in the government are obsessed with finding ways of competing with foreign product, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the hugely popular Japanese anime and manga skeins beloved of Chinese rugrats. At Annecy, the Chinese entries are on the less populist side. In […]

  • Bully

    Film News Roundup: Danny Trejo's Dark Comedy 'Bully' Scores Distribution

    BEIJING — Animation is a real buzzword in China these days, and biz mandarins in the government are obsessed with finding ways of competing with foreign product, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the hugely popular Japanese anime and manga skeins beloved of Chinese rugrats. At Annecy, the Chinese entries are on the less populist side. In […]

  • Jamie Lee Curtis Hugs Fan Who

    Jamie Lee Curtis Embraces Sobbing Fan, Who Says 'Halloween' Saved His Life

    BEIJING — Animation is a real buzzword in China these days, and biz mandarins in the government are obsessed with finding ways of competing with foreign product, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the hugely popular Japanese anime and manga skeins beloved of Chinese rugrats. At Annecy, the Chinese entries are on the less populist side. In […]

  • Teen Titans Go to the Movies

    Film Review: 'Teen Titans GO! to the Movies'

    BEIJING — Animation is a real buzzword in China these days, and biz mandarins in the government are obsessed with finding ways of competing with foreign product, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the hugely popular Japanese anime and manga skeins beloved of Chinese rugrats. At Annecy, the Chinese entries are on the less populist side. In […]

  • Glass trailer

    M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass' Trailer Debuts at Comic-Con

    BEIJING — Animation is a real buzzword in China these days, and biz mandarins in the government are obsessed with finding ways of competing with foreign product, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the hugely popular Japanese anime and manga skeins beloved of Chinese rugrats. At Annecy, the Chinese entries are on the less populist side. In […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content