pandastory pandastory
Feature Film

Chinese producing hand-drawn 3-D “Panda Story”

A Chinese hand drawn animated film Xiong Mao Zong Dong Yuan (“Panda Story”) is scheduled to be released in January 2011, supposedly in 3D, according to the website They are reporting that the film is a co-production by the China Film Group and a German company ORB Filmproduktion GmbH, has been six years in the making, with an investment of $52 million (US $).

The article also states:

Following “Xiong Mao Zong Dong Yuan,” the Hollywood film “Kung Fu Panda 2” will be released in mid-2011. The two panda stories will compete for audiences. Chen said the production period for his film would be longer than that of “Kung Fu Panda,” which required four years for its animation effects and six years for its total production.

“Audiences will see the competition of the two panda stories and see which panda is better,” Chen was quoted as saying. “They will see more Chinese features and Chinese spirit in the character in my film. Even the background will be specially created according to Chinese painting style.” The panda character in “Xiong Mao Zong Dong Yuan” leads his villagers in a fight against their enemies and successfully survives the attackers.

This video, from a Chinese newscast below, shows several non-Chinese animators working on the project (If anyone knows who these animators are and what studio is doing this, we’d like to know):

(Thanks, Michael Tuttle)

  • Steven M.

    This looks nice.

  • greg m.

    That $52 million was a misquote. It is definitely under $10 million.

  • It looks like IMDB and Baidu (second heading, just below the first photo), have a list of additional producers involved.

    Also involved in production: Benchmark Entertainment Picture Productions (Germany), Angels Avenue (Belgium), Les Films De La Perrine (France), Motion Investment Group (Belgium), Juventy Films (Spain), ORB Filmproduktion (Germany) and Yisang Media Investment (China). From what I’ve read, it looks like many of the film’s elements are being produced in Toon Boom.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      In other words, excessive globetrotting!

  • Doug

    Interesting … is there some sort of new cold war being fought with animation?

  • greg m.

    That list Aaron speaks of are money partners. The actual production work was with Accio studios in Spain, and a handful of freelancers. The compositing and stereoscopic is being done at Digital Graphics in Belgium. This is the same studio which composited “The Secret of Kells”.

  • VinceP

    Wow! I wasn’t expecting this, but it looks really interesting. As far as I know, this is China’s first really serious crack at animation. Am I right about this? It will be interesting to see what comes of it. I know it’s being made in Europe, but most Japanese animation is made in Korea and it still gets to be called Japanese…fair enough?

    • Jmatte

      China has a long tradition of animated films- just not many of these have been seen outside of China.
      Here’s an old example from 1961

      Sorry for the dated example, but I remember seeing it as a kid and really enjoying it. It could be interesting to have more recent examples of animated films from China.

      • VinceP

        Oh wow!! Thanks! I’ve never seen stuff like that before, it looks really cool! I always love to see the different take that each culture has on animation, it makes the medium so much fresher to have all that variety.

        I know it’s nothing like his stuff, but I can’t help thinking of Yasuji Mori whenever I see 60s animation from Asia hahaha <3 him so much.

      • Havoc in Heaven and the other Sun Wukong films made by Shanghai Studios are GREAT. Also, films like Nezha Conquers the Dragon King and Secrets of the Heavenly Book.

        Classic Chinese animation is beautiful.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Certainly the classics that came from SAS (Shanghai Animation Studio) have found a place in animation’s history despite it’s near-forgotten status. I usually comment that China’s animation tends to be very traditional as oppose to contemporary, the way they want to tell stories or characterizations. They still have a weakness for folktales, but for a country with millenniums worth of it, I see why that could be hard to knock off.

  • Thomas Hatch

    The Chinese government is spending a LOT of money on animation. I was there twice last year and the students I met were awesome. I look forward to this.

  • Holy cow, this looks really cheap, I can’t believe they used 52 million dollars for that!

    • jic

      Misplaced decimal point?

  • Wow! “OUr KNock off will be the REAL Chinese Panda movie animated by non-chinese people!!” Lame.

  • pheslaki

    Well dang, they already told us the ending!

  • How is this going to look in 3D? I’m thinking it will look like those view-finders you look through.

  • Phunk

    Xiong Mao Zong Dong Yuan or Po. I think on a global appeal level there is an obvious winner here.


    Those apes look like they belong in the He-Man universe.

  • david

    “They will see more Chinese features and Chinese spirit in the character in my film. Even the background will be specially created according to Chinese painting style.”


    “We know our movie is worse than the Dreamworks one, so we have to rely on the patriotism of Chinese citizens. The backgrounds will be extremely kitsch and sweet.”

  • Dan S

    Anytime I see films like this I think of how genius artists like Jiri Barta and Jan Svankmajer were treated by the communist censors. Jiri made a very dark film that was an allegory about his experiences working under government censorship called ‘The Hand’ which was banned after his death. (This would be the near-equivalent of say, America banning Walt Disney movies – Jiri’s influence was that extensive in Europe.) Svankmajer was eventually exiled from his country for his subversive imagery. He had his revenge later in his film after the fall of soviet (and czech) communism called ‘the death of Stalinism in Bohemia’ where he tapdances on the grave of czech/soviet communism by making a film loaded with enough anti-communist symbolism to make a censor’s head explode.

    When I think of the bitterness, frustration, anger, and unfairness these artists faced at the hands of oppressive governments, it infuriates me. I see the same thing when I look to Chinese cinema, sadly. Yes, there are amazing works of cinematic art that manage to get made in spite of crass censorship. But the level of freedom allowed in what the filmmakers can say makes everything feel like artists behaving obediently with muzzles on their faced. The way the creators are talking up this movie has me shaking my head and considering that this might be little more than didactic propaganda, as opposed to real art – after all, the panda is pretty much the equivalent of the ‘bald eagle’ of China, so to speak. The filmmaker also seems to carry some very nationalistic attitudes.

    I’m afraid I will be avoiding seeing this film on that basis alone – other artists should do the same. This is a regime that is anti-expression; no matter how much they talk up their own artistic merit, it is the merit approved by the state, not the expression of free minds. See it if you absolutely must, but I’m afraid that if I were to watch such a film all I would be able to see would be kids running from bullets and tear gas at Tienanmen square.

  • greg m.

    Hi Dan S., just so you know – This is a German film, which has “some” chinese financing, by a chinese investor who lived for a number of years in Germany. The article you saw there was for the Chinese marketing for their own distribution of the film there in China.