'White Snake': The rise of animation in China's film industry
Updated 21:21, 15-Feb-2019
By Yu Fengsheng
White Snake, these two words for many Chinese people will instantly conjure memories of the famous folk tale "The Legend of the White Snake." The story has become a classic in Chinese culture, ever since a TV series, based on the legend, hit the airwaves in 1992. 
But now the time-tested tale has gotten another reboot, with the release of the animated film last year quickly becoming a massive box office success.
In January 2019, the film hit cinemas around China. In less than a month, the film had raked in over 440 million yuan (about 65 million U.S. dollars) in the box office.
A poster for "White Snake" /VCG Photo

A poster for "White Snake" /VCG Photo

The story is an adaptation of the Chinese folk tale "Legend of the White Snake," in which a white snake spirit transforms into a woman and falls in love with a man.
Directed by young Chinese filmmakers Amp Wong and Zhao Ji, the film is co-produced by Beijing-based Light Chaser Animation and Warner Bros.
"Three years ago, when we first started to think about what film we were going to make for our next movie, we began to talk about the 'White Snake,'" said Zhao Ji, "It's been a very famous traditional story for thousands of years. There must be a reason why Chinese people have liked to tell this story throughout history, so we wanted to find a different angle, a new angle to tell the story." 
Directors of the "White Snake" Amp Wong and Zhao Ji speak at a press conference. /VCG Photo

Directors of the "White Snake" Amp Wong and Zhao Ji speak at a press conference. /VCG Photo

"I think 'White Snake' is a big IP, but we tried to use a new angle to tell this 500-year-old story. This angle will attract more teenage people who are interested in what the story is going about," said Amp. 
But it's not just the film's story that's appealing. The striking visual effects also turned heads, all thanks to the careful design of animation firm Light Chaser. 
A poster for "White Snake." /VCG Photo

A poster for "White Snake." /VCG Photo

"The only reason Chinese people don't know we can do this kind of quality film is because we haven't made any good stories or good films yet. But actually these past few years we can see a lot of companies and a lot of young Chinese filmmakers, who come back from Hollywood and from all over the world," said Zhao Ji, adding that, "They make the team more and more stronger. I think we have the power to make this kind of quality film, but we need more opportunities."
But when it came to international cooperation in the movie industry, both directors pointed out that Chinese filmmakers still could benefit from the rich experience of some of the world's leading movie houses. 
"I think it is (about) experience. Because you know in Hollywood like Disney, they are like 20 years ahead of us from the experience level. That is something very valuable," said Zhao, "But actually we are young, and we are getting new ideas and new knowledge very fast, so I think we can catch up with a very good pace." 
A poster for "White Snake." /VCG Photo

A poster for "White Snake." /VCG Photo

"I think we got the energy. We are all teenagers. If we do more about the domestic contest, then we will have the advantage because we know the traditional culture," said Amp. "So I think the technology we can trace, but in the context, we have an advantage." 
Light Chaser has committed itself to make bigger and better animated production for China's hungry audiences. Besides "White Snake," the firm has recently completed some other features, including "Little Door Gods" and "Cats and Peachtopia." 
Sure signs that another golden age for animated Chinese cinema might be just around the corner.