Animating the world

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Chinese animated productions, such as Rainbow Chicks and The Floating Planet, which have sold their distribution rights to overseas markets, show improved quality and are more popular in the West than before. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Lei Tao remembers the time he promoted the animated series Rainbow Chicks in Cannes and how a French distributor mistook it for a Japanese work because of its high quality. Now, the Chinese tale of seven fluffy chicks living on a floating island in the sky is set to fly to more foreign territories.

During the recently concluded MIP China Hangzhou International Content Summit, which was held in the capital of Zhejiang Province between May 23 and 25, Lei's studio TThunder Animation signed a deal with French animation company Millimages.

The contract gives Millimages, one of the top European animation companies, Rainbow Chicks's global distribution rights.

MIP-or Marche International des Programmes-is the world's largest marketplace for television and digital content. It holds events in Cannes twice a year-MIPTV in spring and MIPCOM in autumn.

The Hangzhou event marks MIP's first foray into Asia.

The Rainbow Chicks deal testifies to rising interest from international players in China, one of the key producers of entertainment content and also an important market.

In 2016, China produced 334 television dramas, 21,000 minutes of animated content and more than 700 feature-length movies.

The three-day Hangzhou event saw more than 250 participants from more than 130 movie and television companies from 19 countries and regions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia, Italy, Japan and Singapore.

During the one-to-one meetings-a major part of the event, joined by 80 companies -up to 300 potential deals worth a total of 480 million yuan ($70 million) were discussed.

"The world is eager to know about China. This is a good time for Chinese content to go abroad," says Chen Ying, general manager of Zhejiang Megamedia, one of the event's organizers.

Chinese animators have been at the forefront when it comes to international coproductions, with a history going back to the late 1970s.

Anke Redl, strategy and business development director of Beijing-based China Media Management Inc, says China's animated productions have made waves in Europe in recent years, a view also echoed by Grace Lee, marketing director of Millimages.

Lee says that Chinese animated content, especially that with educational themes, has seen a great improvement in quality and is more popular in the West than before.

Lee says Rainbow Chicks' blend of the ink-and-brush painting style and a Western storytelling approach, provide a fascinating package to viewers.

So far, the series tailored for preschool children has dominated ratings on its Chinese broadcaster, China Cental Television, among all animated productions aired at the same time. It has been viewed more than 100 million times on major video-streaming sites, such as iQiyi, LeTV and Tencent.

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