STX, Alibaba to Distribute 'Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year'

'Peppa Pig'

The Chinese-language film will show, with English subtitles, in a select number of U.S. theaters on Feb. 5.

STX Entertainment has teamed up with Alibaba Pictures, the film division of the Chinese e-commerce giant, to distribute the new feature film based on the British cartoon character Peppa Pig. 

Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year, co-produced by Alibaba and British media company Entertainment One, will be distributed by STX in 65 theaters across 32 U.S. markets on Feb. 5, which is also the second day of the Chinese zodiac’s Year of the Pig in the lunar calendar.

STX is targeting cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco with high concentrations of Chinese-American audiences in its release strategy. The 81-minute Chinese-language film will be in English subtitles for its U.S. release.

A teaser of the film (below) has become a massive viral hit in China, with its Chinese hashtag #WhatisPeppaPig garnering over 1.63 billion views on microblogging platform Sina Weibo to date. Apart from the original characters in the British series, the film also features Chinese festive elements such as dragon dancing and dumpling making.

While the film is generating interest from its intended audience in China — families with young kids — the seemingly innocuous porcine character, created for preschool children in easily digestible five-minute doses, is not without controversy in the country. Thanks to Chinese-made viral memes projecting apparently subversive and anti-establishment views onto Peppa and her friends, all videos of the cartoon were deleted and the name Peppa blacklisted starting in late April last year from Chinese video streaming service Douyin in a reported act of self-censorship. The pink piglet has become a subcultural symbol embraced by Chinese young adults, frequently appearing as tattoos.

Besides Peppa, STX is also collaborating with Alibaba to co-produce and co-finance content from the UglyDolls universe, as well as a film slate that includes sci-fi actioner Steel Soldiers, directed by the award-winning helmer Robert Zemeckis and live action-and-CGI hybrid adaptation Warriors.

The company is also working with Tencent Pictures, the subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate, to produce an untitled Jason Statham film and a comic adaptation produced by Channing Tatum, Zombie Brother, and to develop a TV series with Jackie Chan.