Studio: Light Chaser Animation
Film: Tea Pets (working title)
Director: Gary Wang
Writer: Gary Wang
Release: 2017 (date to be confirmed)
After selling video-streaming site Tudou for over $1 billion in 2012, tech entrepreneur Gary Wang re-emerged in March 2013 to launch Light Chaser Animation. His intention was to build a studio that could produce Hollywood quality with cutting edge production technology and technique, but at a fraction of the cost. Wang’s profile and marketing savvy immediately cast a spotlight on Light Chaser, one that shone particularly brightly in China’s then unexposed industry, resulting in slightly over enthusiastic labels like “China’s Answer to Pixar”.
The studio’s initial priority has been winning over a domestic audience that held serious reservations about homegrown animation. They have sought to do that by by telling stories focused on the clash between traditional Chinese culture and modern society. Wang raised eyebrows by assuming writing and directing duties for debut feature “Little Door Gods”, despite having never previously written or directed an animated film.
To ensure word got out that Chinese animation was emerging from the doldrums, Light Chaser spent a cool $12m on a long-running marketing campaign that included a seven-minute short, “Little Yeyos”, to showcase the studio’s production prowess.
“Little Door Gods” cost just $12m to make, an impressively low sum given the production quality that ultimately emerged. However, despite the technical and visual progress, and extensive promotion, the film earned a disappointing $11.4m (78m yuan) at the beginning of 2016, with sceptics of Wang’s storytelling feeling vindicated by an uninspired plot. The Weinstein Company bought the worldwide rights in May 2015.
Still from “Tea Pets”
Wang will be hoping for better from the studio’s second feature, “Tea Pets”, currently completing production, for which he returns as writer and director. The focus is again on traditional elements, this time the small figurines found in Chinese tea culture. Marketing began earlier this year with a bigger push planned in the Spring.
Still from “Tea Pets”
The studio plans to release a new feature every year, gradually expanding its focus to include the global audience. Meanwhile, Wang says the company will continue to develop its production pipeline and grow the studio’s directing and writing talent, allowing the entrepreneur to gradually extricate himself from production.
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