Chinese Cartoons Struggle to Attract More Interest

Chinese cartoon producers have been urged to become more competitive in order to triumph against more successful foreign rivals.

”Money shortages are a problem for the industry, but it's not the only issue,'' said Sun Lijun, vice-president of the Animation School with the Beijing Film Academy. “Cartoon producers also need to create products consumers will respond to.''

Chinese cartoon makers have fought a two-decade uphill battle to gain on foreign rivals. Yet Chinese people still prefer cartoon figures and products that use cartoon characters created in the United States, Japan and Europe over those invented here.

Cartoon-related industries score 1.3 billion yuan (US$157 million) every year in sales in China, only 10 percent of which is earned by Chinese companies.

There is evidence that a turnaround could be in the offing. “The Magic Lotus Lantern,'' a cartoon film produced by Shanghai Animation Film Studio, grossed 24 million yuan (US$2.9 million) and ranked third in the country in 1999.

The huge success of the cartoon TV series “3,000 Questions for the Blue Cat and Naughty Mouse'' has further boosted the morale of animators.

“’Blue Cat's’ success is reflected more about its commercial potential than its artistic merits,'' said Zhou Fengying, deputy secretary-general of the China Animation Society.

Indeed, “Blue Cat'' has huge marketing potential.

“The cartoon industry does not only embrace cartoon films or TV series but also their derivative products such as clothes, toys and stationery,'' said Wang Hong, general director of the “Blue Cat'' cartoon TV series.

Wang said the length of the cartoon TV series has given it enough time to merchandise and create awareness of derivative products.

The cartoon series, produced by Hunan Sunchime Film Studio Development Corporation, entered the Guinness Book of Records earlier this month with a running time of 7,500 minutes in 500 episodes.

The company has developed related products including books, stationery and toys.

“The cartoon industry will draw more attention from investors after it has proved itself profitable,'' Wang said.

(China Daily 08/20/2001)

In This Series



Web Link