China’s Bona Film and Japan’s Toei Animation have teamed to develop and co-produce big-budget English-language animation feature, “The Monkey Prince.” The film, which has already been in early preparation since 2015 is pitched as “a Chinese legend, mixed with Hollywood story-telling, and Japanese animation.”
John A Davis will direct from a script by David Stem and David N. Weiss, as an adaptation on the oft-told “Monkey King” story. Co-creator isNaoto Oshima (“Jimmy Neutron”) and Craig Elliot as head of design. Production is by Chuck Williams (“Brother Bear,” “Lion King,” “Aladdin”).
The picture also involves Japanese production company Sola Entertainment, Sammy and Marza Animation, Taiwan-based A Really Good Film Company, which is a run by Bona executive VP Jeffrey Chan and is an affiliate of Bona. Details of the project were announced Wednesday at TIFFCOM, on the margins of the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Other financiers may be brought in to compete the $30 million budget. The producers envisage making further announcements next week at the American Film Market. Delivery is scheduled for 2020, slightly after the Tokyo Olympics.
“One area that really interests us is global family entertainment. Japan is the world’s largest producer of animation, but does not do enough in this family area,” said Joseph Cho. He was founder of Sola Digital Arts, and previously had a background at Warner Bros. in Los Angeles. “The world’s three largest film markets the U.S., China and Japan all pulling in different directions. The challenge is to pull it all together.”
The film has already received co-production approval from the mainland Chinese authorities. Chan said that he hopes to bring on board further Chinese partners to be announced in the coming weeks.
“This is aimed at the global market so we need to work with the gold standard and deliver it in English. We may reanimate mouth movements for the Japanese audience, though they are less sensitive than Chinese audiences,” said Cho. “We will have to adapt it, not just dub it for China, as it is a co-production,” said Chan.