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China

Update on a Goose

We mentioned before about an upcoming animated film called Duck Duck Goose, one of several films being financed the Chinese firm Original Force with the intention of releasing in North America. Well now, according to an article at Cartoon Brew, Duck Duck Goose has a release date — April 20th, 2018 — and a teaser trailer up on YouTube. “Chris Jenkins, a veteran Disney effects animator who more recently shifted to the producing side (Dreamworks’ Home, Sony’s Surf’s Up), makes his feature directorial debut on Duck Duck Goose. Jenkins co-wrote the film with Rob Muir… The film follows the adventures of a ‘high-flying bachelor goose’ named Peng (voiced by Jim Gaffigan) who finds himself in charge of two ducklings (voiced by Zendaya and Lance Lim) that he must take along on a long journey south. Other voices are provided by Greg Proops, Natasha Leggero, Reggie Watts, Diedrich Bader, Jennifer Grey, Rick Overton, Craig Ferguson, Stephen Fry, and Carl Reiner.” Distribution is being handled by Open Road Films, the same outfit that released The Nut Job and its recent sequel here in the States.

image c. 2017 Original Force

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Look! Up in the Sky!

According to an article at Animation Magazine, the Chinese tech company Tencent has agreed to invest heavily in the development of a new CGI series, Super BOOMi, created by Up Studios (also from China). This furry little super hero has already enjoyed widespread exposure in China, and now his creators are looking to expand his reach to international markets. Up Studios are also working on at least two other animated adaptations: Piggy and Tomo Explores The World.

image c. 2016 Up Studios

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The Nine-Colored Deer

Recently we learned of a new Chinese/American co-production for television and the ‘nets called Valt the Wonder Deer. It’s produced by DreamEast Pictures, and late last year they inked a deal with Jetpack Distribution to bring the series out to the world.  Valt is based on the Chinese myth of the nine-colored deer. According to an article at Animation magazine’s web site, “Valt the Wonder Deer follows Valt and his friends as they encounter funny moments, scary trials and plenty of adventure on their journey to obtain the power of the Five Magic Elements and rescue his trapped parents, the Deer King and Queen, from the comically evil overlords of the Land of Metal. The show uses the group’s journey and experiences to demonstrate themes of love, courage, friendship and responsibility to its young viewers.” Some of the American crew of Valt have previously worked on animation as diverse as Beavis & Butt-Head, Skylanders, Ben 10, Kung Fu Panda, and Dragons: Riders of Berk. Furry.Today has more, including the trailer up on Vimeo. [Again, thanks to Changa Lion for this!]

image c. 2017 DreamEast Pictures

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Well Now, That’s Inventive!

Invention Story is a new CGI animated series created by Trad Animation (that’s the name!) from China. Commissioned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the show is intended to spark in young people an interest in science and engineering. “This series of stories take place in a forest surrounding a town called Carrot Town, full of joyful and magic air. The main character is an intelligent, thoughtful, and creative fox, who in each episode makes a new invention. These inventions associate various fields of production in our daily life, which children see, or use everyday, everywhere. In the process of carrying out each invention, our young audience will be thinking and understanding the science, knowledge, and principle behind them, arousing their interest in creating new devises.” That’s what they say. Interestingly, the story editor behind this new series is an American: None other than Jymn Magon, creator of Disney’s Gummi Bears and TaleSpin. The series began with a pilot movie, Agent F.O.X., which is available in English. Currently episodes of Invention Story are posted on YouTube in the original Chinese. No word yet on an English version!

image c. 2016 Trad Animation

image c. 2016 Trad Animation

Rock Dog — Finally

Presented here, verbatim, from our friends over at Cartoon Brew: “Lionsgate has acquired the Chinese/American co-production Rock Dog for release through its Summit Premiere label. The film will debut in American theaters on February 24, 2017… In one of the first examples of reverse-outsourcing in American feature animation, the Chinese backers farmed out the entire production to Dallas-based Reel FX, the company that produced Free Birds and The Book of Life. Rock Dog was conceived by Chinese rockstar Zheng Jun, who wrote and illustrated a popular graphic novel upon which the film is based. The film follows the story of Bodi, a Tibetan Mastiff, who dreams of following in the footsteps of Angus Scattergood, a British cat musician. Directed by Toy Story 2 co-director Ash Brannon, the film was touted as an attempt by Chinese producers to create a culturally-Chinese animated film that would appeal to a worldwide audience. To increase its chances for success in the global marketplace, the film’s original production language was English, with a cast that includes J.K. Simmons, Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Matt Dillon, Sam Elliot, Lewis Black, and Kenan Thompson. In the U.S., Rock Dog will open one week after Warner Bros.’ The LEGO Batman Movie.” Ouch. Here’s a direct link to the new trailer.

image c. 2016 Lionsgate

image c. 2016 Lionsgate

He’s a Titan of Kung Fu!

Back in 2011 Kizoic Comics created a tie-in comic book line for Kung Fu Panda, anticipating the release of the Kung Fu Panda 2 animated film that year. Well now in anticipation of next January’s upcoming release of Kung Fu Panda 3, Titan Comics are having a go with their own full-color Kung Fu Panda comic, written by Simon Furman and illustrated by Lee Robinson. “Po has been a busy Kung-Fu Panda! He’s had 2 hit movies, a successful TV show, and there’s another exciting movie on the way! And now he’s set to get even busier in his own brand new comic! Join Po, The Furious Five and Shifu – and all their enemies – for their own comic strip adventures! This issue kicks off a  special two-part story: Wake Me Up Before You Po-Po!” Seriously. It’s on the shelves now!

image c. 2015 Titan Comics

image c. 2015 Titan Comics

Wolves in Mongolia

More interesting news from Cartoon Brew: Rob Minkoff (The Lion King,  Stuart Little, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, etc etc…!) has signed a two picture deal with Le Vision USA, the American wing of China’s Le Vision Pictures. The first is for a live-action comedy called Silkworms (which we know nothing about, so far). The second, of more interest here, is for an animated adaptation of Chinese author Lu Jiamin’s semi-autobiographical novel Wolf Totem.  Earlier this year the book was adapted into a Chinese-language live-action film, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud from France. The story tells of “…a Chinese student who is sent to Inner Mongolia to teach shepherds and instead learns about the local wolf population, which is under threat by a government apparatchik”. (Shades of Never Cry Wolf, anyone?) At this point we do not know if Mr. Minkoff will simply be producing the animated version, or if he will direct. Nor have we gotten any word as to a projected release date. Guess we’ll find out!

image c. 2015 Forbidden City

image c. 2015 Forbidden City

Cartoons Rising in the East

And another article from Variety. The big news in animation this year has been China: Not only working on farmed-out animation for American productions, but actually hiring American talent to work on home-grown Chinese productions intended for international release (hello, Rock Dog!). China is having its biggest year ever for domestic animation. The film Monkey King: Hero Is Back (yet another adaptation of Journey to the West) has set box-office records for an animated film in China. In the midst of all this the Chinese animation house called Original Force have announced they’re opening an office in Hollywood with the intention of working with American talent to create new films. Cool thing is: Several of them are furry. “Original Force is currently in production on Duck Duck Goose, the story of an unlikely family, directed by Christopher Jenkins, who recently produced DreamWorks Animation’s Home, from a screenplay by Jenkins and Rob Muir. Voice talent includes Zendaya, Greg Proops, and Lance Lim. OldZilla and QQ Speed are in the early stages of production. OldZilla follows King Saurus as he starts to deal with his advancing age and urges his elder monsters to go on one last rampage. Bob Bendetson (The Simpsons) is directing, and co-wrote the script with Art Everett. QQ Speed is based on a popular online game and is a co-production with Tencent Holding, which is behind the game. The action-adventure follows a brother-and-sister racing team and their car equipped with a voice that sounds like their late father’s. John Eng (Rugrats Go Wild) is developing the project and will direct.”

image c. 2015 Original Force Animation

image c. 2015 Original Force Animation

He is Monkey!

One of the most popular and well-known furries in history (no, really, we mean it!) is Sun Wu Kong, the Monkey King of Chinese legend. His story, Journey to the West, has been covered in movies, TV, plays, and of course comic books many times. And now here we go again with the latter, in Monkey King Volume 1: Birth of the Stone Monkey, a new full-color graphic novel from JR Comics. “Cited as one of China’s greatest novels, Monkey King follows the adventures of Sun Wu Kong, born from a stone on Spring Mountain and given the title of Handsome Monkey King, who seeks to learn the secret of eternal life. Under the tutelage of Master Puti, Sun Wu Kong becomes incredibly powerful, but his hubris grows until he has run afoul of the gods, who dispatch an army to subdue the Monkey King.” Here’s a write-up from Sci Fi Genre. Monkey King is coming to stores at the end of November.

image c. 2011 JR Comics