The Chinese box office has been on a torrid pace this summer, driven by animation and hybrid projects like Monkey King: Hero is Back and Monster Hunt. Beyond these Chinese blockbusters, however, there are plenty of other homegrown Chinese animation projects that will never travel beyond the region.

For example, the fifth highest-grossing film at China’s box office last week was another CG-animated film, Seer 5: Rise of Thunder, which grossed $6.7 million in its first four days. Here’s the trailer:

Directed by Zhang Jun Wang, Seer 5 is the fifth feature about a group of “space energy robots” who have intergalactic adventures while encouraging children’s interest in science and environmental protection. Taomee, the company that made the film, creates children’s animated franchises by launching them first as online games and virtual worlds, and then adapting them to traditional media like feature film and television. Here is a timeline from their website showing key highlights of the company’s history:

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

If Seer 5 carries a whiff of bygone eras of American Saturday morning entertainment, that’s hardly a mistake. One of Taomee’s cornerstone investors is Saban Capital Group, the investment firm run by Mighty Morphin Power Rangers schlock peddler — and one of the world’s richest people — Haim Saban.

China is a country that’s currently producing more animated features than the United States, and while some of their producers have the ambition to create films like Monkey King, the majority of animation companies will set their sights lower with films like Seer 5 and Autobots. Animation as art still has a long way to go in China; for now, most producers seem to be following the tried-and-true American playbook of assembly-line children’s films designed to generate a fast buck.

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Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.

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