A scene from The Croods Photo: CFP
Poster for Kuiba 2 Photo: CFP
Although the production and release of Chinese animation films has increased in recent years, domestic cartoons still have a long way to go before they can gain a larger share of the market.
An 11-year-old named Wang Zijun listed the animated films that he likes. Only a few of them were Chinese-made.
"Among the Chinese films, I only love Happy Hero
and Kuiba 2
, as they are really funny and logical," he said.
The boy's mother Gao Yuan used to watch the Chinese cartoon series Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf
with her son.
"They were easy for the kids to understand and there were not many film choices for the children then," said Gao. "Now my son finds them too preachy and childish."
Gao recalled that when she was young, she enjoyed domestic cartoon productions like Monkey King
whose characters were animated paper cutouts.
"Chinese animations now ... ignore artistic expression, while Western animations usually tell a meaningful story full of imagination."
In April, DreamWorks Animation's The Croods
took in 392 million yuan ($64.1 million) in 41 days, while Kuiba 2
only snagged 30 million yuan, although it was received positively, according to the figures provided by the China Film News, an industry weekly.
An annual report on the animation industry revealed that in 2012, domestic animation films took in about 3 billion yuan, 17.7 percent of the total box office, and only 400 million yuan of that came from Chinese animations. Moreover, in the first half of this year, Chinese animation films only made up 3.7 percent of the total box office.
Qin Jie, 26, works in a law firm and likes to watch Western animation movies with her friends, as "Western cartoon films have better effects."
"Unlike Chinese animations which are made for kids and usually have happy endings, Western ones go deeper into my heart and touch me more," said Qin.
According to a survey by the China Youth Daily, 56 percent of respondents cared about the Chinese animation industry, while about 65 percent were dissatisfied by homegrown cartoons.
Half of those surveyed think Chinese animations are boring and only a quarter enjoy them.
Liu Dayu, professor at the Communication University of China, said that many Chinese animations are too shallow and fail to resonate with audiences.
Yin Hong, deputy dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University, said that most Chinese animations are aimed at children and put too much emphasis on moral education.
"Due to childish, superficial plots and content, only a few adults are willing to watch animations in the cinema, while Hollywood animations are produced for the whole family," said Yin.
He suggested that big movie makers invest more in domestic animations to expand the cartoon market.