“The Lion Boy” is undoubtedly one of the hottest movies on New Year’s Day.
This two-year-old Guoman movie has gained a good reputation with low-cost production. Currently, it has a Douban score of 8.3, which is the highest rated Chinese movie in Douban 2021. Just like the theme of the film, the “salted fish” counterattacked and became a “lion”.
The production team behind it, “Easy Entertainment”, also began to emerge with this film. According to Cheng Haiming, the producer of “Lion Boy” and CEO of Guangzhou Yidong Culture Communication Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Yidong Entertainment”), the “ Yidong Entertainment” team is mainly involved in the development, production and production of the film.
“Easy Entertainment” did not focus on adult-oriented animation from the beginning.
For a long time before, the Guoman market was full of low-level IPs such as “Pleasant Goat” and “Bear Haunting”. “Easy Entertainment” has also made animated movies for children, but the effect is not good. Until 2015, the adult-oriented animated film “Journey to the West: The Return of the Great Sage” was born, and the word-of-mouth box office doubled, which was regarded as a symbol of the rise of Guoman. Adult animation has entered a stage of rapid development, and in the process of exploration, masterpieces of national comics such as “Big Fish and Begonia”, “Nezha Nezha’s Devil Child Comes into the World” and “White Snake: Origin” were born.
In 2014, “Easy Entertainment” , which received more than 60 million investment from institutions such as Enlight Media and Shenzhen Venture Capital, had previously participated in the early development of some of the popular animation “Nezha’s Devil Child Comes into the World”. In 2019, “The Devil Child of Nezha” won the annual box office champion with a total box office of 5 billion, opening the ceiling of domestic animation movies. The domestic animation film market is gradually changing from a younger age to a mature one, and “Easy Entertainment”, which sensed this change in the environment, has also quickly adjusted its development strategy, adapting to market changes and focusing on adult-oriented animation.
From mythology to romantic realism
The adult Xiangguo comic market is constantly being developed, but it has always been inseparable from mythological themes. Adapting myths and stories that have been spread for many years, on the one hand, can save the foreshadowing of people and make it easier for the audience to understand.
But all mythological themes inevitably lead to aesthetic fatigue. In contrast, it is much more difficult to create original IP from mythology, but it can also build higher barriers, which is an important step for original animation companies to differentiate and gain market recognition. Based on this, Sun Haipeng, the founder of “Easy Entertainment” and the director of “Lion Boy”, chose a path that no one has traveled: he deliberately avoided the topic of myths and stories when choosing the topic, and proposed a “lion dance” from the intangible cultural heritage culture. Starting with the realistic theme of left-behind children, it opens up new ideas for Guoman’s creation and opens up a new product type.
“Lion Boy” New Year’s Eve poster (Photo source: “Easy Entertainment”)
After determining the topic, Sun Haipeng and his team found Zhang Miao, the founder of Beijing Wonderful Time Culture Media Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Beijing Wonderful” ) . “Beijing Wonderful” provides financial support and is responsible for the back-end publicity and distribution, starting the road of innovation of “realistic animation”. It is worth noting that Zhang Miao previously served as the general manager of the Beijing Culture and Film Division, and participated in “Wolf Warrior 2”, “Wandering Earth”, “I’m not the God of Medicine”, “Hello, Li Huanying”, “My Hometown and Me” and other high scores. The film has a good reputation in the industry.
In order to create “down-to-earth” realistic works, Sun Haipeng and his team spent a year collecting wind in Shunde, capturing the blooming and falling of kapok flowers, the structure of houses in villages, the rags hanging on the wall, and drying on the windowsill. The details of life, such as the dried tangerine peel, finally present the real Lingnan “fireworks”. In order to restore the complex structure of the lion head and the shape of the lion dance, Sun Haipeng and his team visited the master who specializes in making lion heads to study the shape, material, and even the elasticity of the hair, and learn from the lion dance team. The lion dance, training, etc., integrate the accumulated materials into the film, and make each lion come alive.
Sun Haipeng used “Lion Boy” to prove that Chinese-style animation is not only about myths and legends.
Looking at it now, Cheng Haiming feels that this attempt and innovation is worthwhile. According to him, thanks to the cost control of “three noes” – no big coffee, no traffic, and no IP , the break-even point of “Lion Boy” is between 200 million and 300 million at the box office. Judging from the current box office of 200 million, “Lion Boy” has made a “stable profit”.
As a “three-nothing work”, the good market feedback of “Lion Boy” has given creators and capital a booster, which not only broadens the possibility of new types of animated films, but also convinces the market that it does not rely on myths or IP. , can also be profitable. Cheng Haiming said that a good literary and artistic creation environment should be full of flowers. “I hope everyone will not crowd the single-plank bridge with the theme of mythology. All traditional cultures can innovate and express film and television literary and artistic works, as long as it is a good story.”
Not only to create a juvenile universe, but also to let juveniles enter the Metaverse
“No loss” has met Cheng Haiming’s expectations.
“Easy Entertainment” has other hopes for this lion: it hopes to generate discussion through “Lion Boys” to build brand awareness, so that everyone can know and remember “Easy Entertainment” and “Beijing Wonderful”, and more The big ambition lies in the future “Juvenile Universe Series”, and “Lion Boy” is only the first work.
Cheng Haiming said frankly that the Juvenile Universe series was a plan made before the production of “Lion Boy”, including 6 works such as the costume martial arts film “Sword Casting Boy” and the sci-fi cartoon “Daily Boy”, hoping to explore beyond mythology. more types of film possibilities.
The unique thing about the Shonen Universe series is that the teenage protagonists in the subsequent series will not change. “Equal to the concept of a parallel universe, the protagonist in “Sword Casting Boy” is still A Juan, who just put on a Northern Song Dynasty costume to start a new story in the Song Dynasty; the sweeping monk is still a strange and mysterious old man in Shandong; the villain’s Wuji team has a hook nose Still the villain.” “Easy Entertainment” hopes to train the young people of the new era, such as Ajuan, Amao, and Agou, into a group of virtual digital actors.
Digital actors can “participate in” sci-fi, suspense, action, martial arts and other types of films, strengthen the screen image, and have an emotional connection with the audience. In addition, digital actors who will not “collapse” and are forever young are more likely to make the audience feel more secure, and in terms of commercialization, it can also reduce the concerns of brands choosing to cooperate with them for endorsement.
The gameplay of the Shonen Universe series is much more than that. Catching the air of virtual idols, “Easy Entertainment” hopes to extend to live broadcast, AR, VR and other gameplay, allowing teenagers to enter the Metaverse.
“The Lion Boy” A Juan’s single poster (Source: “Easy Entertainment”)
According to the eight elements of Metaverse products (identity, friends, immersion, low latency, diversification, anywhere, economic system, civilization) proposed by “the first share of the Metaverse” and “Roblox”, the final form of the “Metaverse” is probably people You can switch identities anytime and anywhere, and be fully immersed in the Metaverse experience without asynchrony or delay; players can create the characters they want, complete interactions with other players, form social relationships, and experience rich gameplay, Contents such as props, characters, and scenes; in addition, the Metaverse should also have its own economic system and unique virtual civilization.
There is still a long way to go to truly realize the construction of the Metaverse, but with the maturity of technologies such as blockchain, AR/VR, and 5G, we seem to have reached the threshold of the Metaverse. The virtual anchor Liu Yexi attracted 5 million fans in 10 days, and the limited-edition Phantom Bear NFT jointly sold by Jay Chou’s trendy brand PHANTACi and digital entertainment platform Ezek sold 62 million in less than an hour, and the Metaverse became a well-deserved wealth code. The social platform giant Facebook even changed its parent company to Meta, sending a strong signal to the market that the Metaverse is optimistic.
One group of people thinks that the Metaverse has great potential, while the other group thinks that the Metaverse is more like a tool for cutting leeks. In Cheng Haiming’s view, this is mainly because the Metaverse and blockchain have not found a good landing model, and have not been combined with high-quality content consumption. “Technology always has to move forward, and the development of technology must be combined with the real needs and consumption of the market.”
He believes that moving away from the virtual to reality is the future development trend of the Metaverse. “Combining content consumption, it is a mature and down-to-earth way to cut into the Metaverse from the movie track.” Derivative IP supported by high-quality content can establish a deep and solid connection with consumers and increase consumers’ willingness to pay. For example, the protagonist A Juan in the film has grown from a bullied person to a “lion” who jumped into Optimus Prime. The passionate “salted fish” turning over resonates with young people who are eager for personal growth and establishes an emotional connection.
In addition, the collection process of “Lion Boy” spent a lot of time and money in order to restore the real environment with high precision. Burning kapok, weedy corners, and streets full of fireworks, the daily scenes presented in the film are almost fake, evoking the audience’s memory of the beautiful details of life. “The Lion Boy” shows the sincerity and technical polish of Sun Haipeng and his team, and the resonance with the audience is the vitality of the IP of “The Lion Boy”.
It is worth noting that in addition to “Easy Entertainment” and “Beijing Wonderful”, “Lion Boy” is also co-produced by the Propaganda Department of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee Propaganda Department, and the CPC Guangzhou Municipal Committee Propaganda Department, and the spirit of the lion is even more. It represents the main theme of “Awakening of Oriental Lions” and “A strong youth makes the country strong”. Cheng Haiming said that in the future, when creating a juvenile universe, “Easy Entertainment” will pay more attention to risk control and positive energy promotion, and combine it with the application scenarios of the Metaverse.
At present, “The Lion Boy” has co-branded new artists to launch NFT art products such as digital posters. “Combining the high-scoring Chinese film “The Lion Boy”, it is more collectible.” In the future, “Easy Entertainment” plans to move from film to The social direction is extended, such as letting Ajuan participate in the live broadcast, or creating experiential products such as social games, so that the audience can have real interaction and communication with the teenagers. “Standing on the high starting point of high-quality content, “Easy Entertainment” wants to cultivate billions of dollars in assets by developing stars. “
Make a movie with the logic of industrialized consumer goods
When we reported on “Easy Entertainment” last year, we predicted that “Easy Entertainment” would usher in a harvest period in 2021. In addition to box office revenue, “Lion Boy” has also attracted national trendy brands such as Anta and HEA to cooperate. Cheng Haiming admitted that he is not worried about the commercialization of Juvenile Universe. “”Easy Entertainment” mainly thinks about how to maintain the tonality and continue to produce high-quality content. ”
After the release of “Lion Boy”, the producer’s holding company “Hualu Baina” once had a daily limit of 20cm. From December 6 to 17, the stock price of “Hualu Baina” rose from 4.97 yuan per share to 7.22 yuan per share. The stock has risen by more than 45%. Although there is no big profit, the market has shown great confidence, giving “Easy Entertainment” a broader space for growth. “With the hit “Lion Boy”, the audience and capital also have confidence in the quality of the entire team and the series of films. The valuation of future works can go up, which is conducive to resource integration and financing, and encourages the team to Polishing higher-quality works is a positive cycle process.”
The trust foundation of the market is an important driving force for “Easy Entertainment” to develop the Juvenile Universe. In addition, as an industrialized product developed and produced by computer, “Lion Boy”, which made the audience laugh and cry, has accumulated valuable experience and industrialized foundation for the production of subsequent works. Compared with live-action movies, animated movies will not be kidnapped by traffic, “after avoiding factors such as the schedule and price of the main creative team that are difficult to break through in real-life movies, it is possible to realize the popularity of popular movies. Copying, the quality of film and television works is also controllable.”
Although mass production can be achieved through computer technology, film has always been a spiritual consumer product. As a work of art, a movie may not be perfect, but it has the perfect time to meet the audience. During the creation process, it needs to be planned and set in advance in combination with market trends and audience characteristics. “It is necessary to present products that the audience have not seen or are relatively rare in the next two or three years, so that the audience can ‘return the price’.” Therefore, in the creative process, “Easy Entertainment” always puts innovation first.
To strike a balance between business and art, making good content that is “worth the price” is the foundation of all business.
“Lion Boy” poster (Source: “Easy Entertainment”)
Capital returns to the film and television industry
“Respect the audience and believe in the market” is a view repeatedly emphasized by Cheng Haiming.
As early as 2018, with the continuous adjustment of tax policies and frequent industry scandals, the film and television industry bid farewell to barbaric growth, and capital began to flee the film and television circle. The stock prices of many listed film and television companies have plummeted or even halved, and they have been hit hard by the epidemic in 2020. The film and television industry is in a quagmire, and entertainment is no longer the focus of mainstream funds.
Entering 2022, the situation has turned for the better. Through the work “Lion Boy”, “Easy Entertainment” has allowed capital to see new possibilities in the entertainment industry. According to Cheng Haiming, there are many investment institutions and industrial capital such as cultural and tourism funds actively looking for “Easy Entertainment” for cooperation. “We believe that the film and television track can produce blockbuster movie works, and can also produce excellent creative companies, which is worthy of investors’ attention.”
Cheng Haiming believes that the current Guoman market “has reached the stage where it is natural.” On the one hand, the generation who likes the second dimension has grown up and has a certain consumption power, which is enough to support the entire national comics market. Station B has grown from a “small broken station” to a mainstream video website with a voice and a large amount of traffic, which means that subculture enthusiasts have become mainstream consumers. Starting from the breaking of the circle at station B, the two-dimensional crowd is no longer a niche group. On the other hand, the growth of national strength has prompted the return of cultural self-confidence, which has set off a “national tide”. “We can’t live up to the market and the times, we must work hard to do what we should do, and leave the rest to the audience.”
Cultural and creative companies should have a clear understanding of the market and seize the opportunities in it. “It is impossible for companies to earn money beyond the scope of understanding. Therefore, “Easy Entertainment” is rooted in Guangzhou, insisting on being a technology-driven company, developing technology, and being down-to-earth. Develop animation.
Talking about the rise of Guoman, Cheng Haiming said, “When every creator, every artist, every director can return to the original heart of creation, and when there is no need to shout about the rise, then China will truly become a cultural power. when.”
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