WALT DISNEY STUDIOS AND YING DONG MEDIA ANNOUNCE CHINA PANDA PROJECT
The Walt Disney Studios together with Chinese filmmakers Castle Hero Pictures and Ying Dong Media announced today at the Shanghai International Film Festival, that they are combining creative forces to make a movie tentatively titled Touch of the Panda. The film, shot in Sichuan, China with official cooperation and supervision from the Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve, features Giant Pandas bred and nurtured in one of the world’s foremost research and preservation facilities for the endangered species. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures China helped develop the project during the pre production and filming stages creatively with Castle Hero Pictures and Ying Dong Media, and will handle marketing and distribution around the world. The film tells of a story of a panda cub separated from his mother and eventually rescued by a young orphaned boy. As the boy struggles to protect the cub from people he believes would hurt it, the two form a strong bond even as the boy realizes that the best thing he can ever do for the cub is to help him find its way home. Child actor Daichi Harashima portrays the boy and the film is helmed by acclaimed Chinese director Yu Zhong.
The announcement was made by Jason Reed, executive vice president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, Stanley Cheung, executive vice president and managing director, The Walt Disney Company Greater China, Tian Ye, executive producer of the movie and chairman of Ying Dong Media and Jean Chalopin & Jennifer Liu, producers of the film. Commenting on the announcement Reed said, “We're thrilled to be working with a team of talented filmmakers on this exciting film for Chinese moviegoers of all ages, as well as for audiences around the world. Our first Disney branded effort in China, 'The Magic Gourd,' proved to be a tremendous success and the start of a wonderful working relationship. “Touch of the Panda” follows in the tradition of Disney's most memorable family films, and takes audiences on a spectacular adventure with some of the rarest and most fascinating animals on the planet.
We're grateful that Jean Chalopin and Jennifer Liu, the writers/producers, brought this project to us, and we've enjoyed working closely with them throughout the production to make it a film that will entertain family audiences everywhere." Cheung added, “This project truly highlights Disney’s continued efforts to generate locally relevant entertainment content for the modern Chinese consumers. We’re excited to have a film that features a significant icon that the Chinese people truly identify with. We strongly believe that our filmmakers have crafted a wonderful film worthy of the Disney branding. We also believe this picture is going to play a role in highlighting the plight of the Giant Pandas. Our title in Chinese roughly translates to “The Panda’s Road Home,” perhaps made more poignant now in light of recent events in that part of China.” According to Tian, “We felt it was important that we make a film that would appeal to Chinese audiences first and foremost but at the same time potentially find a way to entertain audiences of all ages outside of China.
Having Disney on board clearly gives us the advantage of having one of the most trusted and successful global brand names in family entertainment that will be crucial in ensuring that this labor of love reaches as many audiences as possible.” Chalopin and Liu said “We’ve set out to make a movie that is heartfelt, realistic and brings a message of courage, compassion and friendship set in the amazing world of the Giant Pandas.
And we could not have done it without the official supervision, assistance and cooperation from the Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve. We were blessed with a passionate cast and crew that really fell in love with Sichuan and the Giant Pandas throughout the shoot and it’s going to translate on the big screen when this film is released.”
The project began production around the Chinese New Year and recently completed principal photography. It is now in post production and will be released theatrically in 2009. The film represents a significant follow up for the Walt Disney Studios in China after “The Magic Gourd” which was released in 2007. About the Walt Disney Company The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with four business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company with annual revenues of over $35 billion in its most recent fiscal year. About Ying Dong Media Beijing based Ying Dong Media is a full service production and distribution company focusing on feature film, tv series, animated and variety programs. The company is backed by an experienced multi-national team of core executives dedicated to invest in and develop entertainment content that not only suits the Chinese audiences but also the international marketplace.