With the popularity of Crazy Rich Asians in Hollywood, a door has been opened for a new wave of eastern cultural influence in entertainment. The oriental artistic elements and IP have once again attracted the attention of the American and European film and TV markets. Given the current competitive landscape in the global entertainment industry, only a small number of film and television IPs that convey Chinese traditional culture are accepted by Western markets and audiences, such as the Chinese super hero Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King, from Journey to the West. iQiyi, a leading online streaming service comparable to a Chinese version of Netflix and Disney, is trying to break the current barriers and build a Chinese IP universe that honors Chinese traditional culture through its high-quality platform resources.
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Beyond the Ocean tells a story comparable to an ancient Chinese version of Pirates of the Caribbean, and is supported by historical texts and data surrounding events that occurred during the Ming Dynasty. (Graphic: Business Wire)
Beyond the Ocean, an animated nautical adventure series produced by iQiyi in cooperation with Daysview Animation, will enchant audiences from both the east and west, and shed a spotlight on the world of ancient China. The epic series is based on Ma Boyong’s popular novel of the same name. Fantasy author Ma Boyong, nicknamed the “Prince” by his loyal fanbase, has created a world that combines traditional Chinese culture with a modern form of visual storytelling. Beyond the Ocean tells a story comparable to an ancient Chinese version of Pirates of the Caribbean, and is supported by historical texts and data surrounding events that occurred during the Ming Dynasty. The series follows Prince Jianwen of ancient China after witnessing the murder of his father and was forced to escape to Southeast Asia in the ship of the Azure Dragon. From then on, he endures various exciting and grueling adventures and embarks on a journey of revenge while searching for Buddha Island.
Beyond the Ocean has ignited a flame on social media, garnering over 310 million views of topics surrounding the series via Chinese social media. In addition to creating a buzz online, Beyond the Ocean was also recognized internationally for its strong content creation capabilities and dazzling 3D animation. The iQiyi series was recently awarded the “Best 3D Animation Award” of mainland China, and was nominated for an Asian Academy Creative Award in Singapore.
iQiyi has been working to increase representation of Chinese IP, artists, and talent in the global entertainment industry. The online streaming service has produced various Chinese originals and high-quality IP in recent years as it aims to improve the overall creative environment of the Chinese animation industry. The company has been planning to invest over 200 million RMB (~28.7 million USD) to sign Chinese artists and animators, as well as developing various local characters that shed light on traditional Chinese culture. iQiyi’s Beyond the Ocean is an example of the company’s ability to produce not only a high-quality animated series, but also their ability to spread positive Chinese traditional and cultural values to its audience, especially to the younger generation.
Gong Yu, the head of iQiyi, described the corporation’s business model as more akin to Disney’s rather than Netflix’s, with a stronger focus on its online services. Specifically, iQiyi is planning to develop corresponding games based on many of its popular animated films and series. As more and more users start to play the games, a Disney-like digital ecosystem has been growing steadily. As the popularity of iQiyi’s interactive games and animated series like Beyond the Ocean spreads, they will be increasingly recognized by international audiences.