‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ opens in China
Grabbing one of coveted 20 slots for foreign films that make it to Chinese screens every year, the much-anticipated “Kung Fu Panda 2” opened in theaters across China this weekend with mixed reactions. (See trailer below.)
While crowds descended on theaters for tickets to the movie, according to Shanghai Daily, there were also a number of people lined up protesting the film and asking people to boycott it.
The American-made film, which opened a day before International Children’s Day, has more “Chinese elements,” according to state media reports than the original "Kung Fu Panda," including shadow play and lion dancing.
Those boycotting the flick include Chinese artists and some academics who believe that the movie, produced by DreamWorks, “Has twisted Chinese culture and serves as a tool to kidnap the minds of the Chinese people,” writes Xinhua.
"Children's Day should be pure. Don't turn it into a money-making day for Hollywood, and don't fool our next generation with American 'fast food'," said an open letter to Chinese cinema managers written by Zhao Bandi, an artist hoping to boycott the "Americanized" movie.
Zhao has taken out ads in papers in major cities around the country over the past few weeks urging people to boycott the film -- a similar tactic he used when the original “Kung Fu Panda” was released in 2008. The film went on to take in RMB 200 million in 2008, then a box office record for a foreign film.
Not alone in his efforts, Zhao’s campaign is backed by Kong Qingdong, a well-known professor of the Chinese language at Peking University, who has come out against the film because he sees the Chinese elements as “a cultural invasion," according to Kong.
- More on CNNGo: China to double the size of its entertainment industry
Despite the grassroots campaign against “Kung Fu Panda 2,” the firm is highly anticipated, particularly for the increasingly positive portrayal of China.
"We got a lot of inspiration from Chengdu, from the architecture, the scenery and the weather. The second movie will be more true to life," said Raymond Zibach, production designer for "Kung Fu Panda 2" in a press conference.
Why can't we produce such brilliant movies ourselves?— Chinese netizen question posted on the "Kung Fu Panda 2" weibo page
According to Zibach, many elements of Chengdu are depicted in the movie, including the province's Mount Qingcheng, Taoist culture and the area's famous Sichuan-style noodles.
Zibach also said he’s confident that the film's box office returns will be twice as large as profits from the first film.
There have been over 270 million comments posted on the “Kung Fu Panda 2” weibo page, a good sign for future box office revenue.
Although some are merely posting that they're excited for the film’s release, other comments on the forum see it as a way to motivate the domestic Chinese animation industry.
"Why can't we produce such brilliant movies ourselves?" was a common question posted.
'Kung Fu Panda 2' gives domestic inspiration
China’s domestic animation industry has made significant gains over the last few years, and its no coincidence that “Kung Fu Panda 2” opened the same weekend as China's first state-level animation production base in Tianjin, with more than 180 animation firms signing up.
The studio represents an investment of RMB 4.5 billion by the Chinese and Singaporean governments.
Minister of Culture Cai Wu said to the press at the opening ceremony that animation production has been included into the country's overall development plan for the cultural industry during the 2011-2015 period.
"The Tianjin base will be developed into a center for animation production, trading, exhibition, training, research and development and international exchanges," Cai said.
The minister said this was part of the country's efforts to boost the homegrown animation industry.