Beijing’s Light Chaser Animation has unveiled a trailer for its first feature film Little Door Gods, which will open in mainland China cinemas on January 1, 2016, preceded by a 36-city roadshow starting on October 3.

The film asks: What happens to good luck “door god” decorations when no one in contemporary society believes in their spiritual powers anymore? Written and directed by Light Chaser founder Gary Wang, the Chinese web entrepreneur who started the video sharing site Tudou, Little Door Gods aims to boost the standards of locally-produced Chinese feature animation and match the standards of American studio theatrical features.

While the jury is still out on whether it’s up to Western standards, the trailer suggests that it’s one of China’s most technically sophisticated CG features to date, comparing favorably to this summer’s smash hit Monkey King: Hero is Back, which banked over $150 million to become the highest-grossing animated film ever released in China.

Light Chaser has told Cartoon Brew that the studio plans to qualify the film for the feature animation category of this year’s Academy Awards, which would likely make Little Door Gods the first homegrown Chinese animated feature to compete in the category.

At a press conference in Beijing yesterday, Wang and producer Yu Zhou talked about the “artistic craftsmanship” that went into the making of Little Door Gods, making clear that the film is different from other homegrown Chinese animated features, which are typically produced on fast schedules and low budgets compared to their Western counterparts. Wang explained that a team of 160 people spent two-and-a-half years producing Little Door Gods, while the script went through 30 versions of continuous refinement.

Zhou said that the film required 80 million CPU render hours, comparable to American films. Both the music and sound effects were produced in Dolby Atmos, a first for a domestic Chinese movie production. Little Door Gods also marks the first time that a Chinese animation studio has worked with Skywalker Sound.

Wang’s reputation in the tech sector has garnered investment from some of China’s biggest Internet giants, including Baidu and Tencent. The film will be released by Alibaba Pictures, the fledgling film arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba. It is the first time that those three Internet companies — Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (collectively known as B.A.T.) — have jointly invested in a single film. Other major co-financing partners include China Film and Gewara.

Little Door Gods will begin playing its roadshow on October 3rd in Qingdao, Changchun, Changzhou, Zhengzhou, Kunming, Foshan, and Taiyuan. No American distribution is set at this time.

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