×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Monster Hunt 2’ Showcases China’s Improvements – and Ambitions – in Animation

“Chinese animation is making great progress,” declared Raman Hui, director of “Monster Hunt 2,” the smash-hit hybrid of live action and animation that played in a Special Gala screening Sunday at the Berlinale.

Hui’s is no empty boast: His family-oriented adventure film has just taken in $190 million in three days at the Chinese box office over the lunar new year holiday.

Monster Hunt 2” is the latest and highest-profile example of China’s leap forward in the animation business. Also over the holiday weekend, the fifth Boonie Bears movie, “Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink,” earned $40 million; Netflix has just picked up rights to the franchise’s third installment. And China’s Light Chaser Animation is making a series of increasingly high-quality 3D animations.

Hui spent his early career in Hollywood and was co-creator of “Shrek.” Speaking to Variety at the Berlin Film Festival, he said the improving Chinese animation industry allowed an increase in quantity and quality of CGI in “Monster Hunt 2.”

“When I first came back [to Asia], animators were mostly operators. I needed to tell them what to do and show them the steps. I’ve forced them to think, and they are doing so. That means I can ask the animators’ opinions more and ask for suggestions, where previously they’d be surprised that I was even asking,” said Hui. “I hope to see more of this. It is good for the industry.”

Doing a sequel did not necessarily make the production much easier. “That’s because we had a lot of new characters, such as BenBen the big monster,” Hui said, “and the CGI environment was a new task for me.”

But along with improved technical and imaginative flair, “Monster Hunt 2” features an increase in human star power, in the form of Tony Leung Chiu-wai (“In the Mood for Love,” “Grandmaster”), who plays a feckless but charming rogue.

“Our thoughts were mostly about that character. Above all, we wanted a really good actor,” said Hui. “Tony is such a good performer that he pushed the animators, too. I encouraged them to raise their level and to match him.

“It was still hard for him,” Hui added. “He had to interact with monsters he could not see. Sometimes we’d use a ping pong ball to match his eye line. But other shots we’d have to take it away, and he’d simply have to remember.”

Producer Bill Kong encouraged Hui “to do more.” That push turned “Monster Hunt 2” into a multinational effort, with VFX provided by half a dozen companies on both sides of the Pacific, including Industrial Light & Magic and Whiskytree from the U.S., and China’s BaseFX in Beijing, Original Force in Nanjing, Trouper Visual Effects in Shanghai and CGCG in Taiwan.

A story outline for “Monster Hunt 3” already exists, Hui said. It has yet to receive a green light from Kong, but if it does, Hui’s thesis of “great progress” in Chinese animation may face a new test.

More Film

  • Fox Searchlight logo

    Film News Roundup: Fox Searchlight Launches Searchlight Shorts

    In today’s film news roundup, Fox Searchlight starts a shorts channel, Uma Thurman signs with ICM and Miramax signs animation exec Michael Lachance. SEARCHLIGHT SHORTS Fox Searchlight Pictures’ chairmen Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have announced the launch of “Searchlight Shorts” as a collection of short films. The shorts are available on Fox Searchlight’s YouTube [...]

  • ImMature - cr: MX Player

    Indian Streamers Ramp up Original Productions

    Ever since global streaming giants Amazon Prime Video and Netflix entered the Indian OTT space in 2016, the conversation around original series has mostly revolved around them, thanks in part to market leader 21st Century Fox’s Hotstar’s circumspect attitude at the time about producing content. Netflix had great success with “Sacred Games,” while Amazon rode [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Hollywood Agents, Writers Guild Make Little Progress in Talks

    Leaders of Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America made little progress in Tuesday meeting to negotiate proposed rule revisions to how agents represent writers. The WGA said after the meeting — the fifth since Feb. 5 — that talks would resume later this week but did not give a specific day. “The Agencies [...]

  • Village Rockstars

    Female Filmmakers Are a Growing Voice in India

    The Indian film industry has historically been a male-dominated one, but the winds of change are blowing across the country, albeit slowly. Better-served than the rest of the country is the Mumbai-based Hindi-language industry, where there are several active female filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar (“Gully Boy”), Reema Kagti (“Gold”), Leena Yadav (“Rajma Chawal”), Gauri Shinde [...]

  • Florence Pugh

    Scarlett Johansson's 'Black Widow' Movie Adds Florence Pugh

    “Black Widow’s” web may soon be growing. Sources tell Variety that Florence Pugh is in talks to join Scarlett Johansson’s standalone superhero film. Pugh has been on the hot list for this second lead role since last fall, but Marvel wanted to open up the field to other actresses at the beginning of the year. [...]

  • Mira Lesmana Sets up Indonesia Remake

    Mira Lesmana Sets Up Indonesian Remake of CJ's 'Sunny'

    Indonesia’s Miles Film and Korea’s CJ Entertainment are to co-produce an Indonesian remake of Korean hit “Sunny.” The film is a female-driven dramedy about a group of adult friends who reunite 20 years after high school. Directed by Kang Hyoung-chul, “Sunny” was one of the highest-grossing movies in Korea when it was released in 2011. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content