Competition for Pixar? Chinese animation company acquires US$20m in funding

Light Chaser Animation Studios aims to create world-class movies with a Chinese touch

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 6:43pm

Light Chaser Animation Studios, an animation company founded by former Tudou CEO Gary Wang, announced today that it had closed a US$20 million round of Series B funding led by venture capital firms GGV Capital and Chengwei Capital.

The studio was founded by Wang in 2013 out of a desire to create “world-class animated films with a Chinese cultural touch” that could compete with the likes of American powerhouse Pixar.

Over the last year, Light Chaser Animation Studios has focused its efforts on recruiting talent and producing an animated short, Little Yeyos, which debuted on video sharing sites March 12, quickly racking up more than thirty million clicks on the Chinese internet.

Watch: Light Chaser Animation's Little Yeyos

The studio's current project is a full-length feature film, Little Door Spirits, expected to be finished by July 2015 with an estimated budget of US$12 million.

"The movie market in China is booming, and certainly there is a very significant growth space for Chinese animated feature films," said Jixun Foo, managing partner at GGV Capital, in a press release accompanying news of the funding. "We are impressed by the vision and execution capability of Light Chaser."

"Within a very short period of time, they have built up an excellent team and a world-class animation production pipeline. It's very exciting that Light Chaser's animation and CG capabilities are already at a level close to Hollywood."

"Light Chaser is still an early stage venture," Wang responded. "We much appreciate the attention and support from all of our friends…[and] aim to create highest quality works that are truly original and would fuse both art and technology."

Not all have been as enthusiastic about Light Chaser Animation Studio’s work. Several internet commentators criticised the main characters in the studio’s Little Yeyos short for bearing strong similarities to the yellow Minions of Universal Pictures’ Despicable Me films.

Despite these criticisms, Light Chaser Animation Studio’s future works may heavily influence the direction of China’s domestic animation industry, which has been fiercely promoted by the government in recent years despite low overall profits.

A 2013 report by Want China Times found that 85 per cent of China’s animation studios had suffered losses because of production declines.