“Boonie Bears: The Wild Life,” the latest feature-length instalment in a long-running Chinese film and TV franchise, is set to open in Japan and Australia. The moves are closely coordinated with the film’s release at the Chinese box office’s annual high point: Lunar New Year.
The seventh feature film in the “Boonie Bears” franchise “Wild Life” will release in mainland Chinese theaters on Friday – going head to head with the likes of “Detective Chinatown 3” and time travel comedy “Hi, Mom.”
Local distributor FaceWhite Entertainment will release it the same day in Japan. China Lion, a company familiar with the practice of multi-territory releasing in the same window as mainland China, will take the film out in Australia a week later (Feb. 19).
Further out, Cinemaguzzo Entertainment is planning a theatrical release for the picture in Canada on May 7.
The practice of giving coordinated releases to mainland Chinese commercial movies in territories with large Chinese diaspora populations had become well rooted before the coronavirus pandemic. But the virus’ impact, and governments’ differing levels of success in dealing with the disease, have made coordination difficult.
Series producer Shenzhen-based Fantawild Animation says China Lion may be able to obtain a theatrical release in New Zealand. But the Anglosphere’s two largest markets for Chinese-language movies, the U.S. and the U.K., are both off limit for the moment.
The need for patience is not new. “Wild Life” was due to have opened in mainland Chinese cinemas on Jan. 25 last year. But, with only two days to go until the Lunar New Year holidays in China, nearly all of the country was put under coronavirus lockdown orders.
“Boonie Bears” has been the biggest animation brand in China for many years, entertaining the youngest audience with pre-school, and school-age TV series and nursery rhythms. The franchise also includes comedy adventures stories for older kids. Fantawild Animation, which is part of the Fantawild Entertainment theme parks group, says it pitches the features films at audiences of all ages. The six previous feature films have earned a combined gross of $435 million at the Chinese box office.
Abroad, Fantawild’s “Bears” have been distributed in different formats in some 120 territories. Significant partnerships have included ones with Disney, Netflix (Latin America and worldwide), Hulu, Amazon, DirecTV, Sony, Discovery Kids (Latam and MENA), and Sky in the U.K.