GKIDS Acquires Its First Chinese Animated Film 'White Snake' For U.S. Distribution

GKIDS has been fast establishing itself as one of the premiere movie distributors for high-quality animated films. And with China beginning to dip its toes into the animated movie market, it was only a matter of time before the two would meet.

GKIDS, which has distributed for U.S. release award-winning fare like The Breadwinner and the works of Studio Ghibli, has picked up its very first Chinese animated film, White Snakea sumptuous fantasy epic loosely based on the ancient Chinese folk tale of the same name. Following the film's smash success at the Chinese box office this year, GKIDS has set the White Snake US release date for this fall.

From sci-fi blockbusters to adrenaline-packed action flicks, China is starting to present serious competition on the world stage to Hollywood. So it's no surprise that the country's movie industry would start experimenting with the second-most lucrative type of film after superhero movies: animation. The Beijing-based Light Chaser Animation film White Snake, a co-production with Warner Bros., was a huge box office hit in China, grossing $67 million and becoming one of the top-performing Chinese-made animation films. Now it will be making its way stateside this fall under GKIDs, which has set the White Snake U.S. release for fall 2019.

White Snake marks the first Chinese animated film acquired by GKIDS, which is best known for distributing Oscar-nominated fare like My Life as a Zucchini and The Breadwinner, and beloved international animated films, including the works of Studio Ghibli and the 2017 sensation Your Name. The sumptuous White Snake, which was co-directed by Amp Wong and Zhao Ji, falls more in the latter category, as it doesn't have quite the prestige of an Oscar-worthy film, but does offer a visually stunning (and surprisingly sexual) antidote alternative to mainstream U.S. animated films.

The film is loosely based on the classic Chinese fable, The Legend of the White Snake, following the love story of a hunter and a mythical snake disguised as a human hunter. White Snake is conceived as a prequel of sorts to the ancient Chinese myth, which is a fascinating tale of a forbidden romance that prevails against the laws of nature. If you're feeling fatigued by the constant remakes of the same-old Western fairy tales, you only have to take a peek at the wealth of Chinese fables to be reinvigorated again (seriously, check out this TED-Ed video about The Legend of the White Snake, it's fascinating). Here's the synopsis for White Snake:

From Light Chaser Animation, one of China's premiere animation studios, comes a visually stunning new take on a classic legend. One day a young woman named Blanca is saved by Xuan, a snake catcher from a nearby village. She has lost her memory, and together they go on a journey to discover her real identity, developing deeper feelings for one another along the way. But as they learn more about her past, they uncover a darker plot of supernatural forces vying for power, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Conceived as a prequel to one of the most ancient and enduring stories in Chinese history, White Snake presents a sumptuous tale of trickster demons, deadly mythical beasts, assassins, wuxia action, and the promise of eternal love.

White Snake will open in U.S. this fall in both original Chinese and a new English-language version. No official release date or cast has yet been set.