'Ne Zha' set to raise benchmark of Chinese animation

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 25, 2019
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Jiaozi, the director of "Ne Zha," speaks at the premiere held in Beijing, July 23, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Coloroom Pictures]

The upcoming Chinese animated feature "Ne Zha" will not only revive the lukewarm Chinese summer film season, but also set a new milestone for the domestic animation industry.

"Domestic animations are often relatively weak. But this time, we assembled 1,600 people in a team from all over the industry to work for nearly five years and, together, we have tried our best to present a good film for the Chinese audience," director "Jiaozi" explained at the premiere on Tuesday night.

Jiaozi, literally meaning "dumpling" in Chinese, is the alias of young director Yang Yu who was born in Luzhou city of Sichuan province in 1980. The medical graduate gave up his plan for a career as a doctor, instead finding inspiration in animated movies. 

In 2008, he made solely by himself a widely acclaimed 16-minute animated short film, "See Through," which gained international awards, impressed animation major students, the animation industry in general and executives of Beijing Enlight Media.

In 2015, the company was striving to build a huge animation branch named Coloroom Pictures to challenge America's Pixar Animation Studios. They eventually approached Jiaozi to make an animated feature, and the director's first project will be his vision of China's folk deity legend Ne Zha. 

A Chinese IMAX poster of "Ne Zha" [Image courtesy of IMAX China]

Ne Zha appears in many Taoist legends and related novels, such as "The Investiture of the Gods" and "Journey to The West." His legendary activities include slaying a dragon, rebirth after suicide and fighting demons. Jiaozi adapted the story in his own way, touching on subjects such as the parent-child relationship, family love, loneliness and misunderstanding, in order to create a story that would better resonate with a modern audience. To make the screen script work, Jiaozi spent half a year writing it, polishing it 66 times. 

To the reviewer of China.org.cn, the final product is fascinating and stunning with great humor, deep emotion, solid storyline, exciting action scenes, top-rated imagery and delicate details.

"Ne Zha" has generated rave reviews since its advanced screenings in the past week; on Douban.com, China's film rating website, more than 71,000 users gave it an outstanding score of 8.8/10 on average. The film also has achieved box office presales of more than 83 million yuan ($12 million), a record for a Chinese animation. Box office analysts predict the film could become the highest grossing Chinese animated feature of all time. 

Besides, it will be the first IMAX Chinese animated feature ever to be screened on a super big screen. 

The much-anticipated film will hit Chinese theaters on July 26, 2019, and it also has ambition to be the first installment of a "Ne Zha" trilogy and launch a Chinese "The Investiture of the Gods" Universe, a franchise that could include more legends of gods and deities familiar to Chinese audiences, according to the Coloroom Pictures' blueprint. 

Creators of "Ne Zha" pose for photo on stage at the premiere held in Beijing, July 23, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Coloroom Pictures]

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