Shout! Studios and Funimation Films are expanding the Chinese animated feature Big Fish & Begonia in U.S. and Canadian theaters this week.
The film, which opened in L.A., San Francisco, and New York City last weekend, will open this Wednesday or Thursday in dozens of other cities. A full list of cities and theaters can be found here.
The backstory of this ambitious hand-drawn/cg hybrid film is nearly as interesting as the film itself. It wasn’t made by an experienced studio, but by a couple of young first-time directors, Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang, who wanted to produce their own idea. The mini-documentary below shows how the filmmakers met and embarked on their filmmaking journey:
What’s really striking in the video above is when one of the filmmakers breaks down in tears; it’s the type of moment not commonly found in a making-of video, but reflects just passionate the creators were about making their film. The video takes us through 2013, when the filmmakers conducted what was at the time the most successful crowdfunding effort for a single project in China, raising $260,000.
That success inspired Enlight Media, a major private film company in China, to step in and provide funding to complete the film. Korean animation shop Studio Mir (Voltron: Legendary Defender, The Legend of Korra) also joined the production in 2014 to help complete the animation. The film’s final cost was 30 million yuan (under USD$5 million).
Big Fish & Begonia went on to become a major hit in China, grossing nearly $85 million over the course of its theatrical run in 2016.