Pakistani animation 'The Donkey King' hits Chinese mainland cinema in hopes of impressing the market
Published: Nov 23, 2021 10:29 PM
Poster of <em>The Donkey King</em> Photo: Weibo

Poster of The Donkey King Photo: Weibo

The Donkey King, Pakistan's highest grossing animated film, debuted Friday in the Chinese mainland cinemas. With its Pakistani dancing and singing characters, the new animation hopes to impress Chinese audiences and open a door for Pakistani films to enter the Chinese mainland market. 

Dubbed as Pakistan's "peak quality" animation, The Donkey King is a comedy film that engages the country's unique dance and singing elements, leading many Chinese netizens to call it a "very Pakistani cartoon."

"When I saw the poster, and the design of the frame and setting, I thought it was going to be a Pakistani Zootopia, but when I spotted its musical elements, it felt new. I had never seen such very local cultural elements in an animated film," San Limi, a moviegoer, told the Global Times. 

While the production enriched with "local cultural elements," it has nonetheless gone global, released in countries such as Spain and South Korea and regions like the Island of Taiwan after its premier in Pakistan in October 2018.  

The late arriving animated film hopes to open the door for Pakistani films to enter the Chinese mainland market, its director Aziz Jindani told media. 

"It does open a window to make us see where Pakistani animation is as a time when we are so surrounded by other animated films, Pixar films, for example. To be honest, as a creator, I had heard very little about Pakistani animation," Alex Wang, an indie animator creator, told the Global Times. 

Content-wise, the animation has also surprised many Chinese moviegoers by including some rather "deep" political satire, leaving many to define it as an animation for adults. 

"It looks like an animation with goofy jokes, but surprisingly hides some political hints within, which makes it deeper than those animations that are purely suitable for kids. I like the theme too - you are not stupid, even if you are a donkey, it is encouraging," posted a netizen on Chinese media review platform Douban. 

It earned 183,000 yuan ($28,600) at the opening day box office, but after five days it has brought in 4 million yuan in total as of press time. Its performance so far, has overtaken Parwaaz Hai Junoon, a Pakistani action-romance film produced in 2018 which garnered a box office of over $248,000 in Chinese market.

The film tells the story of how an ordinary but optimistic donkey wins the nation's election. It was produced by Geo films and Talisman Animation Studios.