'Peter Rabbit 2' gang up for more timeless fun

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, June 11, 2021
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The sequel to the popular "Peter Rabbit" live-action film will see the roguish but lovable rabbit and a gang of various farm animals back on big screens during China's Dragon Boat Festival holiday. 

A promotional image for "Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway." [Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures]

Columbia Pictures' "Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway," directed by Will Gluck and starring Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson with James Corden providing the voice for Peter Rabbit, brings to life one of the world's most enduring children's series of tales created by English writer Beatrix Potter. Chinese comedian Guo Qilin will dub Peter Rabbit's voice for the Chinese version.

In this film, human characters Thomas and Bea are now married and living with Peter and his rabbit family. Bored of life in the garden, Peter goes to the big city, where he meets shady characters and finally gangs up all his rabbit family members and other farm animals to create chaos for everyone. 

But it's always a great deal of fun to see all these characters played out on the big screen - as amused audiences' positive reactions at several advanced screenings in China have shown. 

The first "Peter Rabbit" film grossed 168 million yuan in China in 2018 and more than $351 million worldwide. The new installment, which has been screened in several markets such as Australia since March, has already grossed $45.8 million worldwide before its Chinese release, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

Picking up from the successful first film, director Will Gluck returns for a new story that takes Peter far beyond the original garden. 

"I love these characters," says Gluck. "Peter makes a lot of mistakes, but always plows on - he always thinks he knows best. That's what makes him a fun character to watch - it's always fun to see someone who drives forward without any worries about repercussions. And yet, at the very end, he learns something about it. It's such a rich world with so many stories to explore."

For Gluck, the sequel became a chance to explore questions of identity, as everybody knows Peter as the mischievous or "naughty" rabbit, as some call him, but that's not necessarily how Peter thinks of himself. 

"It's who you are versus who people think you are," Gluck explains. "Just because people see you in a certain way doesn't necessarily mean that's who you are. Peter, Bea, and Thomas go through that journey in the movie."

A Chinese poster of "Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway." [Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures]

Executive Producer Doug Belgrad adds: "What makes the Peter Rabbit movies resonate with family audiences is that while they are delightfully funny and entertaining, they don't shy away from exploring relatable and weighty emotional issues."

"In this movie, Peter is forced to confront whether he is 'good' and discover his own true nature. Simultaneously, he also has to grapple with the existential threat posed by the prospective arrival of the human baby of Bea and Thomas."

As with the first film, the sequel was shot primarily in Australia. The animation and visual effects team was led, as for the first film, by Animal Logic, one of the world's leading animation companies and contributors to many Oscar winning and nominated films. 

Producer Zareh Nalbandian, also CEO and co-founder of Animal Logic, says: "In taking them out into the bigger world in this film, it started to get really complicated, in terms of the VFX, the animation, and for the actors interacting with it all. It heightened the fun of the movie, but in terms of the animators and the crew, it created a lot more complexity."

"Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway," will hit Chinese and North American theaters on June 11. It will vie against several Chinese domestic productions, such as comedy "Sunny Sisters," crime thriller "Are You Lonesome Tonight?," romance film "Man In Love," sports film "Never Stop," as well as Japanese animated feature "Hello World," the American live-action feature film based on Disney animation "Cruella," South Korean animation "Soda Bros," an Italian classic film re-release of "Cinema Paradiso" to entertain the audience during China's Dragon Boat Festival holiday.

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