... In its latest foray into the fast-growing Chinese entertainment sector, the film unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has partnered with upstart animation studio Light Chaser Animation to co-finance and distribute its debut film, Little Door Gods.
Light Chaser was launched in Beijing in March 2013 by Gary Wang, founder of Tudou.com, which was bought by rival Internet video company Youku.com in a $1 billion stock deal in 2012. Wang has said his ambition for the company is for it to be China's answer to Pixar – a boutique studio "creating world-class animated films with a Chinese cultural touch."
Inspired by Chinese folklore, Little Door Gods tells the story of two guardian spirits who return to the human world to stir up some fun trouble and bring modern non-believers back to the old ways. Although the budget was not revealed in Tuesday's statement, estimates ranged from $15-$30 million when Light Chaser was pitching the project earlier this year. The film was completed in August and will be released in China on January 1, 2016. ...
China has made progress in creating animated features that the Chinese movie-going public wants to see. But the question, "Can China make features that a world audience will love?" remains an open one.
If Light Chaser aspires to be "China's answer to Pixar," then Light Chaser better have its own John Lasseter (or Walt Disney?) on tap. Because it's not enough to own a studio. You need to have a Top Kick who knows how to make audience-pleasing movies. So good luck with that.