China awaits new Russian animation

Russian Content Worldwide at SIFF 2023

At the international film market in Shanghai, Russian film companies made a number of deals and discussed joint production with Chinese partners

In mid-June, as part of the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), the SIFF Market was held, where ROSKINO, the Russian film promotion body with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, organized the Russian Content Worldwide (RCW) stand for the Russian film industry. Eighteen Russian companies presented 75 projects to international content buyers: feature films, documentaries, animation films, and series.

Significant results included an agreement on the theatrical release of the full-length animated film The Snow Queen&The Princess in China in October 2023; a deal with China Mobile on the sci-fi film Reversible Reality. A number of buyers are considering purchasing the new drama Three Minutes of Silence; the thriller Centaur; Woland —a new adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita; the films Elsa’s Land and We are from the Future, the historical series Noble Detective and The Road to Calvary, the action films Silver Spoon and Silver Spoon Goes South, the film In the Moscow Slums and other projects.

Negotiations on co-production with international partners were conducted by Russian animation companies: for example, co-production of the Finnick franchise was discussed.

CTB Film Company introduced new films and its extensive library of older releases to the film market. As a result of negotiations, a disaster film Three Minutes of Silence about the dramatic events on a fishing vessel is being considered by a number of buyers for mainland China. The company’s animation projects were also of great interest to Chinese representatives: new episodes of Moonzy; a full-length cartoon based on the Moonzy series (in production), new episodes of The Barkers, animation projects from the series about the adventures of The Three Heroes. Negotiations are underway on the co-production of new projects and distribution of The Barkers.

Art Pictures Distribution is finalizing a deal with China Mobile, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, on the film Reversible Reality — a sci-fi thriller about a life-threatening virtual game. In 2022, the film was sold to India and the UAE. The company also introduced a number of TV series to the market, including the new Dog’s SWAT about the work of an experimental canine squad. Representatives of Art Pictures Distribution noted the great interest in military-themed content, in particular, in the series The Final Battle, Fog, and the series Sergeant.

The major Chinese VOD platform Wing Sight has shown interest in purchasing two films from Sreda Production Company, Silver Spoon and Silver Spoon Goes South, and the drama Tell Her. Sreda is also negotiating with Huawei, a major Chinese service, to host the company’s films and series on their site. Several film and television agents were also interested in presenting the company’s films and series in China.

Russia Television and Radio noted the interest of Chinese content buyers in full-length films from the company’s extensive library. The dramas Elsa’s Land, Two Tickets Back, Ivan Son of Amir, the military drama We Are From the Future, and The Russian Game—a comedy based on Nikolai Gogol’s The Gamblers—are being considered for purchase. Chinese partners also showed interest in action mini-series (4, 8 episodes) for placement on digital platforms.

A number of Chinese companies have shown an interest in historical series from NTV, in particular, in the projects The Road to Calvary, Unsung Hero and Noble Detective. The historical detective Noble Detective was successfully sold to Japan in 2021. The attention of potential partners was also attracted by the melodrama Dr. Driver and the detective story Five Minutes of Silence. Chinese companies were also interested in TV shows for adaptation in China.

Mosfilm noted demand from Chinese buyers for a new film—the historical detective story In the Moscow Slums. International representatives were also interested in the classics from Mosfilm’s collection, primarily military dramas. According to representatives of the company, there are specific proposals from Chinese buyers which are now being worked on.

The new thriller Centaur, presented in China by the Planeta Inform Group, also aroused the interest of SIFF Market participants. The film, which will be released in Russian cinemas in July, was presented as part of a showcase organized by ROSKINO. The company noted that the coordination of content for China takes considerable time, so specific agreements may appear later.

Mars Media Entertainment was also involved in many negotiations. Their new films Woland (based on Master and Margarita) and A Dog named Palma 2, the fantasy drama Mira, and the company’s series were popular at the film market.

SMF Animation said there was interest in the animated feature film Detective Chirp&the Golden Beehive from major distributors in mainland China and Taiwan; negotiations are also underway with representatives of India and Bangladesh. The attention of buyers was also attracted by the TV series I’ll get you! Holidays and The Secrets of Honey Hills. There is also interest in placing the studio’s library on a number of Chinese digital platforms and IPTV. Media companies negotiating with SMF Animation are from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Australia, and Iran.

For the Riki Group, the SIFF market was an opportunity to personally discuss with partners full-length projects with rights to China—the KikoRiki franchise and Fixies vs Krabots. The main purpose of participation in the film market was the presentation of the feature-length animated film Finnick, which was a great success at the Russian box office, and is now being released in cinemas around the world: so far foreign box office is 1.3 million USD. This summer the film will be released in Turkey and Brazil. The studio is working on the series Detective Finnick as well as the second full-length cartoon. With potential Chinese and Middle Eastern partners, they discussed the distribution of the first Finnick film and co-production of the franchise.

As part of the SIFF Market, Voronezh Animation Studio signed an agreement on the theatrical release of the full-length animated film The Snow Queen&The Princess in China. The release is scheduled for October 2023. The heroes of the franchise have gained popularity in China where all parts of the Snow Queen franchise have been released—the third part was the highest-grossing Russian animated film in the region, and the series The Tales of Wonder Keepers, a spin-off of the franchise, was co-produced with the Chinese online platform iQIYI and topped the ranking of the platform’s children’s content. Voronezh studio also presented the animated series The Steel Family: Brotherhood vs Gold for teenagers, produced with the support of IRI, and the studio’s new full-length project for the family audience, Arctic Heroes, which is under development.

YARKO Animation company presented at SIFF Market the animated series Dragonia, Team M.A.T.C.H., Fly Deliveries, Tommy the Little Dragon and Tickabo. The representatives of the company noted their interest of Chinese buyers in animation for preschool children, as well as in 3D projects.

Russian Content Worldwide (RCW) — is the single export brand of the Russian content industry. The mission of RCW is to develop international ties and business cooperation, increase the transparency of the Russian film industry, and organize communication between Russian companies whose work is focused on foreign markets and international audiences interested in new names, original content, and new horizons in film production.

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