DreamWorks Animation has been spending a lot more time with China. The have created an Oriental division in Shanghai. Jobs are going to the Chinese. They are creating movies specifically targeted for a Chinese audience. The Croods, which was only supposed to run until May 21, was extended to run until June 21 due to popularity.
And then it was suddenly pulled from Chinese theaters, with no comments from DreamWorks’ Chief Executive Jeffery Katzenberg or from the China Film Group, the state’s leading film distributor.
So what happened to this seemingly friendly relationship? From what we can guess, it was because the Chinese wanted to try and create a bigger focus on their own locally-produced films that will be coming out, rather than allowing an American movie monopolize the market. These Chinese films include, “Happy Little Submarine 3: Rainbow Treasure” and “Kuiba 2.”
The Croods has generated nearly $65 million in ticket sales alone since it’s release on April 20, making it the top-grossing original animated movie in China (even beating Kung Fu Panda). China is the world’s second-largest film market.
In a speech at Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, China on Friday, Katzenberg made no mention of The Croods, but focused on DreamWorks’ bright future in China. He stated that, beside the animation studio in Shanghai, a Broadway-like entertainment district would also become part of the city.
“Beyond the ‘Kung Fu Panda’ movies, the phenomenal growth of China’s film market has been invaluable for the DreamWorks brand,” Katzenberg said. “Four of China’s top five animated films are from DreamWorks, and our most recent release, ‘The Croods,’ is their highest-grossing original animated film of all-time.”