Entertainment One and China’s Alibaba Pictures have confirmed plans to co-produce an animated feature movie based on the Peppa Pig preschool children’s character. That is despite Peppa Pig having been considered an anti-social influence in China and removed from some websites in China.
The production was given clearance by China’s censors in the past month. The completed film is scheduled for release Feb. 5, 2019, during Chinese New Year celebrations for the Year of the pig.
“The Peppa Pig series emphasizes the importance of family values, and that is something that will deeply resonate with Chinese audiences. We hope this family film will pave the way for further development of films for young audiences in China,” Zhang Wei, president of Alibaba Pictures, said in a statement.
Earlier this year, however, the pig’s activities, including smoking cigars and wearing gold necklaces, were considered as straying too far from mainstream socialist values and too close to gangsta culture. The state-owned Global Times newspaper condemned the series, and it was removed from streaming sites such as Douyin.
“The film’s storyline was developed specifically for young families celebrating Chinese New Year, and it incorporates many Chinese New Year traditions, such as dragon dancing, dumpling wrapping, and other traditional customs. The film will also introduce brand new characters, including Panda twins,” eOne and Alibaba said in an announcement.
Limited-edition panda-themed merchandise will be released exclusively through Ali Fish, the licensing and entertainment business unit under Alibaba Pictures. It has also been reported that British theme parks operator Merlin Entertainments has plans to open Peppa Pig theme parks in China in 2019.
“There is a huge fan base for Peppa Pig in China, so we’re thrilled with the prospect of bringing the brand’s first-ever theatrical release to cinemas in the region in early 2019,” said eOne’s Olivier Dumont, president of family and brands. “We’ve worked closely with Alibaba Pictures to create content and cinema-themed merchandise with special cultural significance that will resonate with Chinese audiences.”