Children cheer superstar Peppa Pig at premiere

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 25, 2019
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Chinese actors and Peppa Pig family cosplayers appear on stage at the premiere of "Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year" held in Beijing, Jan. 22, 2019. [Image courtesy of Alibaba Pictures]

Hundreds of Chinese children cheered their hero - Peppa Pig - at the premiere in Beijing on Tuesday for the upcoming "Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year."

The beloved animated character's film adaptation, mixing live action and animation, is a joint venture of Entertainment One (eOne) and China's Alibaba Pictures Group. Hundreds of families were invited to the premiere to be treated to a first advanced screening.

Beforehand, actors cosplaying the pig family joined together with the Chinese actors of the live action part of the film on stage to greet children and their parents, and they were soon rewarded with screams, applause and loud cheers. For these children, it was like seeing their superstar idol on stage in a rock concert.

Created by Astley Baker Davies, the original Peppa Pig animated TV series premiered in the United Kingdom in 2004 and later became a favorite among preschool children around the world, eventually running to five seasons broadcast in over 180 countries and regions. It has also been a hit since its debut on China Central Television in 2015, creating a huge fan base. 

Although the combined animated-and-live-action feature targeted mainly family filmgoers with small children, its touching and independently-made trailer has swept China, winning huge numbers of enthusiasts, since Jan. 17.

The trailer's director, Zhang Dapeng, is also a co-director of the film along with four foreign directors, Neville Astley, Mark Baker, Joris van Hulzen and Sarah Roper. 

The trailer entitled "What is Peppa?" can be seen as an independent short film to tell a heartwarming story about how an old man in a remote Chinese village decides to find out what the British cartoon character is so that he can create a gift for his grandson. Eventually, a scrap-metal steampunk-styled Peppa Pig is presented to the grandson. 

The story is a classic example reflecting China's rapid economic development and urbanization over the past decades that have dramatically changed the traditional agrarian society.

The video went viral through various social networks and unexpectedly captured the hearts of millions of Chinese across the nation, resonating with many homesick people who still seek to return to their family residence to celebrate traditional Spring Festival, falling this year on February 5. 

"I never imagined such popularity. It is unexpected," Zhang Dapeng told He was a veteran commercial director, and he thanked Alibaba Pictures for giving him enough space to create, "so I can adopt some unusual approach and style to make such film narrative to convey the family reunion theme. When you go to see a film on the Spring Festival, it's simply a joy and something that touches your heart."

The director announced his answer to the title of his short film -- “What is Peppa?" -- to the audience at the premiere, "For small children, a family get-together, is what Peppa means. This film is the best gift to them."

"Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year" will hit Chinese screens on the first day of the Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival on February 5, joining China's most lucrative film season with other blockbusters, and also celebrating the opening of the Chinese Zodiac's Year of the Pig.

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