Gary Wang, the founder of top Chinese video website Tudou which was merged with rival Youku in a $1 billion deal, started an animation studio last year that was billed as a contender for the Chinese equivalent of Disney’s Pixar.
Today, Light Chaserannounced that it has closed a $20 million Series B round of funding led by GGV Capital and Chengwei Capital. The company aims to produce “world-class animated films with a Chinese cultural touch” — but we can only gauge how successful it will be in July 2015, which is when its first 3D animation is scheduled to be completed. The film, Little Door Spirits, is currently being produced with a budget of CNY70 million ($12 million).
Light Chaser faces mammoth challengers though. Many firms already have their eye set on animation in China, a budding market with lots of potential.
Dreamworks established a joint venture with Shanghai Media Group in 2012 called Oriental Dreamworks. Plans were announced to co-produce Kung Fu Panda 3 in China with an expected release in 2016, while the first feature-length animated film solely created by Oriental Dreamworks was planned for around 2017.
In the meantime, Disney’s own Shanghai resort is scheduled to open at the end of 2015.
With a Chinese tech company founder at Light Chaser’s helm, it gives the company a cultural advantage for the endeavor to become the front-runner in animated films in the country. Already, even before its first production sees the light of day, the company has started its second film project. It looks like there could be serious competition for Dreamworks before its first China-made release hits the big screen.