I'm not talking about what other Hollywood animation studios are hoping to do in the upcoming 12 or 24 months, I'm talking about the folks whom Jeffrey (and DreamWorks Animation) have unwittingly humiliated, the animation artists of the Middle Kingdom.
Chinese cartoonists and animation experts have put their heads together, for the future of the industry. At the 2009 Annual Animation Meeting, held in Hainan island, one idea was to use China's rich history as inspiration ...
Many experts suggested production companies should investigate what the overseas audience wants and try meeting their demands.
Yin Xiaoxiang, Today Animation Company, said, " We would test the water by pre-selling cartoons in the international market. The response we receive from overseas buyers and media will then decide if we should continue producing the cartoons or not. "
Another gnawing fact is that China's animation market is still dominated by overseas productions. Statistics show that 88-percent of cartoons that young Chinese people love, are from Japan, Europe and America ....
Call it "The Curse of Kung Fu Panda", or the Great Wall of Global Toondom, but it appears the Chinese might be doing some focus groups and outside studies as they strive to tear down the barriers that prevent them from becoming global animation players. For it seems the cartoon industry of China is keen on producing animated blockbusters in the manner of Jeffrey Katzenberg, John Lasseter and Walter Elias Disney. (What would Chairman Mao think?)
Sadly, it's not enough to commission reports, or have a lot of eager fingers poised over keyboards and a big render farm at your disposal. You must also have characters and a story that connects across cultural and national boundaries.
That small detail often seems like a simple task when you're watching someone else's successful cartoon in a darkened theatre ("Hey! We'll just do something like that! It's easy!"). Trouble is, it isn't, not really. If it were, more studios besides the ones run by Jeffrey, John, and Chris Wedge would be doing it.
But we're happy the Chinese want to join the club. They're capitalists now, aren't they? And profit and big bucks are the names of the games they want to play. The Five Year Plans have been tucked away in a dusty Beijing attic, forgotten and ignored.