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Entertainment One’s beloved animated character Peppa Pig is heading to Chinese movie screens for a particularly auspicious occasion: The Year of the Pig.
eOne and Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures Group on Wednesday confirmed long-rumored plans to co-produce a Peppa Pig movie targeted at Chinese kids and families. The partners plan to release the film in the Middle Kingdom over the 2019 Chinese New Year, the country’s most lucrative box-office window. Not coincidentally, this year’s holiday will usher in the Chinese Zodiac’s Year of the Pig.
The partners say the feature-length film, titled Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year, will contain both live-action and new animated content. The film’s storyline is said to have been developed specifically for young families celebrating Chinese New Year, with many Chinese New Year traditions — such as dragon dancing, dumpling wrapping and other traditional customs — built into the plot. The film will also introduce new China-ready characters, such as the Panda Twins.
Created by Astley Baker Davies, the original Peppa Pig animated television series premiered in the U.K. in 2004. A favorite among preschool-aged children around the globe, the show’s five seasons to date have been broadcast in over 180 countries.
“This cooperation is an important opportunity to promote cultural exchange between China and the West,” said Wei Zhang, president of Alibaba Pictures. “Alibaba Pictures is excited to share China’s traditions and culture with the rest of the world with a new, fun-filled storyline featuring a character as popular as Peppa.”
The film is expected to open in China on Feb. 5, 2019, with Alibaba Pictures handling distribution. Distribution plans for the rest of the world were not revealed.
eOne, in a separate deal with Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments is set to open a Peppa Pig-themed attraction in China Shanghai’s LC Mall later this year. The TV series, which airs on Nick Jr. in the U.S., has been a local hit since launching on the China Central Television network in 2015.
“There is a huge fan base for Peppa Pig in China, so we’re thrilled with the prospect of bringing the brand’s first-ever theatrical release to cinemas in the region in early 2019,” said Olivier Dumont, president of family brands at eOne. “We’ve worked closely with Alibaba Pictures to create content and cinema-themed merchandise with special cultural significance that will resonate with Chinese audiences.
Alibaba says it is developing limited-edition panda-themed Peppa Pig goods to exclusively release through its licensing and merchandising business Ali Fish.
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