In an unusual arrangement, an Iranian animated feature is being localized for the Chinese market, according to Iranian media reports. The Gools is also said to be heading for the U.S.
The family cg feature is due to be released in Chinese theaters this summer, writes the Tehran Times, which adds that a filmmaker named Wang “has helped make the movie suitable for the Chinese audience.” The film will be released in the territory as Kung Fu Gools.
The Iranian Students’ News Agency specifies an August 2021 release in China, and adds that The Gools is due to be released in the U.S. this February. It does not comment on whether the film will be adapted for the American market.
As the Chinese title implies, martial arts play a central role in the film. Based on a Persian legend, the story is set in a realm of anthropomorphic animals where predators and prey have struck a fragile truce; the weaker animals train in a dojo for self-protection. When a wolf tries to bypass the ceasefire, three young goats set off on an adventure to uphold the peace.
The legend previously inspired the 2000 short Shangoul and Mangoul, a work of cut-out animation directed by Farkhondeh Torabi and Morteza Ahadi (watch it on Youtube here). We’re also reminded of Amir Houshang Moein’s short Am I a Wolf?, which recently qualified for this year’s Oscars. And there’s more than a hint of Disney’s Zootopia in the premise.
The Gools is directed by Farzad Dalvand and animated by Tehran-based Aria Animation, whose credits include the Iranian video game Quest of Persia: Nader’s Blade. Major Iranian production company Tasvir Gostar Pasargad is producing. The English-language cast includes Kaitlyn McCormick, Brian Patrick Butler, Caroline Amiguet, and Mark Atkinson.
Last year, The Last Fiction became the first Iranian animated feature to qualify for an Oscar. The international distribution of The Gools is another sign of the industry’s rising profile. As far as we know, this is the first time an animated feature from the country has been localized for China, whose appetite for animation is also booming.
“The Iranian screenplay attracted me quickly and I wanted to cooperate in this project. I hope the Chinese audience will like the film,” Wang told the Tehran Times. Chinese producer Jin Yang estimates that the film will earn about $21 million in China.