HK animated feature to launch 'Little Gobie'

Weinstein Co. to distribute animated film in North America

HONG KONG – Local 3D animation feature “Little Gobie” is set to launch a new Christmas character in North America through The Weinstein Company at the end of the year.  Producers are now in negotiation with distributors in Hong Kong and China for a December 2010 release.

Directed by original Imagi Animation founder Tony Tang, who later sold the company in 2000, produced by film distribution veteran Charlie Wong, and financed by local fast food chain Tsui Wah Group under the name Goodman Bond International Limited, the US$10 million “Little Gobie” was made by Hong Kong-based T-Films Limited, and will be released in both traditional 2D and stereoscopic 3D versions.

“Little Gobie” tells the story of a reindeer’s adventure to find his lost pet dragon through a series of Christmas-themed locales, and marks the first animation character T-Films will introduce.  Eying the enormous merchandizing potential of original animated characters such as the Chinese “Pleasant Goat” series, the filmmakers plan to establish an animated character that is both representative of Christmas and 100% Hong Kong-made.

“There isn’t any animated character that represents Christmas; and for Hong Kong-made animated characters, there is only one McDull. As for ‘Pleasant Goat,' as big as it is in China, its popularity is mainly confined within China. With the distribution channels of The Weinstein Company, we are hoping to launch ‘Little Gobie’ internationally,” said producer Charlie Wong. 

The filmmakers intend to create a series based on the “Little Gobie” characters with new releases every two years.  In the meantime, T-Films will launch a new animated character at the upcoming Cannes market for a second series to alternate between “Little Gobie” releases.

While the previous local contender in the international animation market, Imagi, ended in a spectacular implosion after its US$65 million “Astro Boy” flopped, Wong said the key to T-Films and Little Gobie’s survival lies in distribution and merchandize.

“Imagi bought the animation rights to update ‘Astro Boy,' but it has no access to the merchandizing revenue; production of that film also began before the company had secured its distribution, it was too risky,” said Wong, who had years of experience in local Hong Kong film distribution. “With our own original character, we can deliver the product in a ‘cheap, fast, quality’ manner, as well as develop merchandizing opportunities ourselves.”

The company is now promoting “Little Gobie” dolls via the fast food restaurants of their investors, Tsui Wah, in Hong Kong, and developing T-shirts and stationery in time for the film’s release in Hong Kong, China and North America.