Guangdong Alpha Animation & Culture Company Ltd. announced last week that it is spending 904 million yuan ($141 million) to acquire U17.com, a top Chinese platform for original Internet comics.
The move represents an unorthodox move by the animation firm, which owns the rights to “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf,” one of China’s most-beloved cartoons.
U17.com owns a slate of adult comics, including one called “100,000 Bad Jokes.” The popular series is laced with adult comedy and witty wordplay and spoofs characters from classic Chinese and Western tales, such as Snow White and Superman. ...
The acquisition comes amid rising enthusiasm among investors for domestically-produced, family-friendly cartoons, sparked by the success of the recent animated feature “Monkey King: Hero is Back.” The film bested a record set by the second installment of DreamWorks Animation’s 2011 “Kung Fu Panda” to become the highest-grossing animated film in China. ...
The swallowing of entertainment companies by other entertainment companies happens in the Middle Kingdom, just as it does stateside: As News Corporation buys Blue Sky Studios, so Disney gobbles up Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilms.
Right now animation work is surging as animated features and television shows generate big profits for conglomerates, but veterans know too well how good times can become bad in the wink of an eye. Today a studio is hiring staff for new projects; tomorrow (when one of the projects tanks) that same studio is laying off employees.
Los Angeles has been blessed with a talent-heavy workforce that's in high demand, but there is always the threat of Free Money luring production to other states and countries (Sony ImageWorks, anyone?) So it's good to be aware that while boom times are good for the soul and pocketbook, they never last forever.