Turner Asia Pacific, which runs the various Cartoon Network channels across Asia, has partnered up with Shanghai-based Tencent Pictures to develop a full-length feature starring Tuzki, the iconic rabbit emoticon that is used throughout Asia on social platforms, including Tencent’s dominant WeChat.

The film, which will fuse CGI and live-action, is expected to begin production in 2017, and receive a Chinese theatrical release in 2018. Tuzki was created in 2006 by then-21-year-old illustrator Momo Wang and is owned by Turner. The character has been used in ad campaigns or promotional items for Motorola, KFC, and Fujifilm, and has been the subject the short-form animation produced by Turner, such as the following piece:

“This announcement is a huge milestone as we look to grow the Tuzki franchise and reinforces Turner’s commitment to its growing business in China,” said Clément Schwebig, Turner’s svp of business development, licensing and China. “Through WeChat, Tencent is obviously very familiar with Tuzki, and everyone is excited to see him appear on the big screen. This irrepressible rabbit has already made a strong emotional connection with a generation of young Chinese, and this film will take engagement to the next level.”

Tencent Pictures, whose WeChat platform boasts over 800 million active users (second only to Facebook), is set to handle the film’s production and distribution, while Turner will support the effort with “360-degree licensing efforts” including consumer products, live experiences, and family entertainment centers.

In a statement, Tencent Pictures said, “For 10 years, millions of young adults in China have used Tuzki’s unique expressions to communicate their feelings with their friends. Now, they can experience Tuzki’s story in what promises to be a remarkable story of adventure and excitement. We’re looking forward to partnering with Turner to create a film starring a timeless and eminently marketable IP.”

In celebration of the character’s 10th anniversary, a number of Tuzki-related events have taken place this year, including the opening of a Tuzki-branded restaurant in Shanghai last April, a big presence at the Beijing Comic Convention in June, and a sports-themed exhibition, “The World of Tuzki: Summer Sports Gala,” which opened recently at the Galaxy Macau.

tuzki_movie_poster

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