The Future of Chinese Animation

The future. What does it hold in store for China and it’sanimation industry? What studios are making changes and being noticed for adapting to a more world wide audience?

 When we speak of animation from Asia, we tend to think of Japanese works similar to the ‘Death Note’ animations or releases from Studio Ghibli, such as ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ or ‘Pom Poko’. The gap is evident, and is backed by Zhang Hongjian who is head of Hangzhou’s Department of Publicity and Information. He states that:

 ‘There is a remarkable gap between China’s animation and cartoon industry and that of Japan. In fact, China lags behind at least 10 years in terms of technique and originality.’

Little do we know, as westerners, of Chinese animation and their industry. A lot of this is to do with the political power that Mao had over the country in the 60’s and 70’s. Not allowing China to produce animations, unless having a political stance similar to his own, he basically shut down the industry and forced studios to close if they did not co-operate.

Roughly forty years on however, things have changed. There is a steady growth in the animation industry in China and the figures for industry production value, which includes TV series’, films and internet animation, topped CNY20.8 billion in 2010. This is expected to increase to CNY50 billion in 2015, if economic growth and government-led protective policies are still steady and on an upward trend.

And the trend does seem to be constantly improving, with Xing Xing Studio’s having landed animation work on Madagascar, Fireman Sam and work with Lego. They have also started to be recognised by western companies for their visual effects work and have recently worked on films such as Changeling, Twilight and Tropic Thunder.

By not limiting themselves to just animation, they have expanded into the world of visual effects, gaming and the use of flash animation. The person to thank for this? Lifeng Wang. At 14 he entered the University of Science and Technology of China and also studied in British Columbia, completing his Masters. Starting off with just 5 artists, he now employs over 250 artists at Xing Xing. Lifeng’s understanding of both western and Asian business cultures, has developed the company into a leading company in China at this time.

It is because of people like Linfeng, who have studied in China and abroad, who can really change what the industry is in China. He has brought in a multi-cultural feel to Xing Xing and has many specialist in different areas of the company.

The film Kung Fu Panda might ring a bell to many readers, but did you know that this film and it’s sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2 (funnily enough) are some of the biggest grossing animated films in the region of all time? Kung Fu Panda actually grossed over $100 million!

And the creators of Kung Fu Panda…DreamWorks Animation. Now recently, ie 17-02-2012, DreamWorks Animation announced they are to team up with China Media Capital, with the idea to include Shanghai Media Group and Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. The idea they have? To create Oriental DreamWorks. Their aim is simple, to create high quality Chinese animation and live action, and have it distributed across the globe for all to see. Not only will they distribute Chinese animation and film throughout the world, they intend to build theme parks, live entertainment, mobile and consumer products, within each brand. The enterprise, which is due to kick start later this year in Shanghai, is estimated to be worth $330 million.

With this being announced, I can personally see the Chinese animation and film industry continually growing until it is at the top of the tree. With massive companies such as DreamWorks investing in Chinese companies to produce high quality goods is a great boost to, not only the Chinese economy, but also to the film industry. With Xing Xing also having had visits from Cartoon Network and Pixar, the only way is up for Chinese animation.


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