China Animation Revenue Rises to $14 Billion in 2013

Boonie Bears 2013 Still H
LeVision Pictures

The Chinese government is keen to boost the animation sector, which is undergoing a revival, with domestic animated features scoring high in the box office and a slate of high-quality projects.

China's animation industry generated $14 billion (87 billion yuan) in revenue last year, according to figures released at the tenth China International Cartoon and Game Expo in Shanghai. For the past three years, the industry has expanded by about $1.6 billion yuan per year.

Animation exports a sector that the government is keen to expand reached $160 million in 2013, up 22.8 percent year on year. About 220,000 people are working at 4,600 animation companies in China.

PHOTOS Cut, Censored, Changed: 10 Hollywood Films Tweaked for International Release

Last year, 29 domestic animation films were screened there. The total box office for China's domestic animated films hit $104 million in 2013, up 48 percent.

For years, Chinese animation struggled from a lack of investment and missing creative juices, completely outplayed by SpongeBob SquarePants and the Japanese animé classics. But now the sector is undergoing a revival, with a slate of high-quality projects and domestic animated features scoring high at the box office.

PHOTOS 35 of 2014's Most Anticipated Movies

Recent months have seen China launch a major initiative to boost toons, and the world’s second-biggest film market is poised for a boom period centered on major projects, such as the $40 million animated 3D project Kong, co-produced by Gary Zhang and Korean filmmaker JJ Kim.

Earlier this year, animation outfit Mili Pictures Worldwide launched the $22 million fantasy adventure Dragon Nest: Warrior’s Dawn and opened a Los Angeles office, headed up by veteran producer Bill Borden (Mission Impossible 3, High School Musical).

At the Cannes film festival, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television had a designated China animation booth at the market.

PHOTOS 25 of the Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2014

Recent animation hits include the Pleasant Goat franchise and Boonie Bears: To the Rescue, a feature version of a hit show on the state broadcaster CCTV that took $5.2 million on its opening day alone.