Imagine the Genie from Aladdin recast as a fluffy pink dragon on the loose in contemporary China. That will give you an idea of what’s going on in Wish Dragon, a new co-production from Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) and a handful of Chinese companies, whose first trailer and poster have quietly dropped.
Watch the trailer and read the official synopsis below:
A tale of discovering the greatest wish of all. The story is a genie-in-a-bottle retelling set in contemporary China … The modern-day fairy tale picks up the moral challenges that emerge from the encounter between a boy and a dragon who is able to make wishes come true.
Fresh from two Oscar wins (for 2018’s feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and 2019’s short Hair Love), SPA is possibly the buzziest animation studio in Hollywood, but this isn’t a conventional SPA title. Writer-director Chris Appelhans, who has worked as a visdev artist on films like Monster House, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Puss in Boots, developed the feature at China’s Base Animation, which also handled the animation. It’s the first release from the studio, which was founded in 2018 as a sister company of vfx vendor Base FX. SPA boarded later in the production. Tencent and Jackie Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media, both based in China, are also co-producing.
Wish Dragon is the first product of SPA’s new international initiative, announced last year. The studio will collaborate with storytellers from countries around the world to develop and produce a variety of animated features for both local and global release. The initiative is led by producer Aron Warner (Shrek, The Book of Life), who is a producer on Wish Dragon.
As Kristine Belson, SPA president, put it last year: “We celebrate the fact that we do not have a house style. We intend to continue down the path that we are on — bringing all audiences stories from around the world, stories no one else is telling — and do so in a way that pushes the boundaries of animated storytelling.”
Wish Dragon’s campaign rollout in the U.S. doesn’t appear to have begun yet, but the Chinese posters (at top and below) also promotes the film’s English-language title. Sony has not announced a firm release date in the U.S. though it was previously expected to premiere sometime this year.
Expect more U.S.-Chinese co-productions like it in the years to come, starting with Netflix’s Over the Moon.