Several animated films are being screened to attract children's attention this summer. However, while some domestic productions have spent years writing the script and updating the technologies, very few of them so far have won the battle of the box office, falling far short of their foreign competitors.
"Kuiba" is one of the most critically acclaimed animations this summer. The production team was proud and confident of their efforts, but it seemed that most of the cinema goers knew nothing about the film. "Kuiba" was mostly scheduled for cheerless morning sessions, while peak hours were left for foreign animations. The crew members even went to cinemas and handed out leaflets by themselves, hoping to impress the audience.
Zhang Jiazhen, co-creator of “Kuiba” said, "We had our mascot standees delivered to the cinemas but they were never put out. Cinemas think Chinese animations don't deserve a good box office results. All we could do was do the promotion as much as possible, by ourselves. We go straight to the viewers and ask for support."
But cinemas have good reason to do what they do. In past years, the reputation of domestic animations was pulled down by churning out a large amount of productions that could barely attract anyone. In contrast, many of the foreign animations created quite a buzz long before they premiered in Chinese mainland. While children so preoccupied with Kung-fu Panda and Optimus Prime, it's extremely tough for domestic productions to compete with foreign ones.
Li Quanchang from New Century Cinema said, "For cinemas, we schedule show times according to anticipated box office results to maximize profits. So why would ANY cinema show an animation film when it is barely known, and has little chance of attracting thousands of viewers?"
Wu Hanqing, producer of “Kuiba” said, "In the end, we should have done better in promotion and distribution."
Investors say that making films is no different than selling any other product. It's not really about how much time, funds and effort you have invested, but about informing customers how good you are.
By losing the battle of promotion, film makers in China have begun to realized the prime importance of marketing. Hopefully, animators will take their lumps, learn their lessons, and return better than ever. Only then will they overcome their collective negative reputation.
Editor: Xu Xinlei