Alibaba Partners With Chinese Animation Studio

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Light Chaser Animation founder Gary Wang

The Chinese online giant will co-finance and distribute "Little Door Gods," the first film from Beijing-based Light Chaser Animation, which has sought to position itself as China's answer to Pixar.

In its latest foray into the fast-growing Chinese entertainment sector, the film unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has partnered with upstart animation studio Light Chaser Animation to co-finance and distribute its debut film, Little Door Gods

Light Chaser was launched in Beijing in March 2013 by Gary Wang, founder of Tudou.com, which was bought by rival Internet video company Youku.com in a $1 billion stock deal in 2012. Wang has said his ambition for the company is for it to be China's answer to Pixar — a boutique studio "creating world-class animated films with a Chinese cultural touch."

Inspired by Chinese folklore, Little Door Gods tells the story of two guardian spirits who return to the human world to stir up some fun trouble and bring modern non-believers back to the old ways. Although the budget was not revealed in Tuesday's statement, estimates ranged from $15-$30 million when Light Chaser was pitching the project earlier this year. The film was completed in August and will be released in China on January 1, 2016.

"Little Door Gods is a top-quality film, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Light Chaser on this project and leverage our strengths in promotion and distribution," said an unnamed Alibaba spokesman in a statement. "This project is very much in line with our strategic goal of servicing the cultural industry and upgrading its overall competitiveness.”

Yu Zhou, producer of Little Door Gods, said that Alibaba Group’s outsized influence in the Chinese Internet sector, including its vast user base and expanding media and entertainment product ecosystem, would be a "key resource for the project." 

Alibaba Pictures is involved in a slate of films to be produced by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, including Ferryman, directed by novelist Zhang Jiajia and starring Tony Leung. The company is also bankrolling several television productions.

A concept trailer for Little Door Gods is below. 

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