'Snow Queen 3' to Be First Chinese-Russian Co-Production

'Snow Queen 3: Fire and Ice' is set to be a collaboration with Beijing's Flame Node Entertainment, marking the first time Chinese producers will have a say in a Russian movie.

Top Chinese animation producer and distributor Flame Node Entertainment is partnering with Russia's Wizart to produce the third film in the Snow Queen franchise.

The deal marks the first time Chinese producers will have a say in a Russian film and the latest evidence of growing closeness between Russia and China in the entertainment industry.

The two companies have agreed to jointly produce Snow Queen 3: Fire and Ice, laying the ground for collaboration on both "financial and creative" aspects of the $10 million feature. The deal was signed in Beijing earlier this week to coincide with the Chinese release on 3,400 screens of the film's first installment.

The companies forged close relations during the two years of negotiations leading up to this week's release — the first time a Russian animation has been released in China.

Feng Yi, head of Flame Node, said signing the cooperation deal was a "major decision" for both companies.

"Given the peculiarities of filmmaking in China, we hope that this collaboration will emerge in a long-term partnership and development of the Snow Queen franchise. We are happy to work with Wizart since their projects are globally known, targeting international audience and, from my perspective, worth bringing to the Chinese market."

The companies say the deal memo is a "first stage" of cooperation and that the $10 million budget is the minimum spend anticipated on the animation.

Local language voiceovers for this week's release include those of actress Liu Chunyan and singer Huo Zun.

Flame Node's latest production, Monkey King: Hero is Back, a 3D animated take on the classic tale, became the fastest Chinese animation to pass the $50-million threshold and has taken nearly $131 million so far in less than a month.

Russia and China have been cooperating in many areas of late, including pacts on film festivals and discussing ways of allowing more Russian films into China, as well as deepening levels of co-production.

For Russia, reeling from economic crises and sanctions imposed by the international community over its actions in the Ukraine, China provides a valuable outlet for Russian films.

Animation is all the rage in China right now. Last month saw two major animation festivals, and animation is seen as a major focus for filmmaking innovation. The output of the animation industry last year was $4.8 billion, up 69 percent on 2013.

This figure is set to go even higher following government plans to encourage cinemas to show two hours of domestically produced animation every morning with special discounts.

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