The Walt Disney Company is exporting its cartoon know-how to China.
Disney has formed a partnership with the Chinese ministry of culture’s animation group and Internet service provider Tencent to create animated content for China and international markets, the company said Tuesday.
It will also train local talent to create animated movies and shows.
“Disney’s involvement builds on our expertise and long-term commitment to nurture the local original animation industry," Andy Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International, said in a statement. "As [a] founding partner we look forward to working with this new creative partnership in creating content for the Chinese and international marketplace."
The partnership's name — which is rather unwieldy when translated into English — is “The National Animation Creative Research and Development Cooperation."
Disney said it will provide its expertise in animated storytelling and market research. The studio will work with the Chinese animation group and Tencent to distribute the movies, TV shows, and digital products that the partners create. Tencent will help with online marketing.
Disney has been quite active in China in recent years. The company broke ground in April, 2011 on Shanghai Disney, its $4.4 billion theme park and resort. The first section of the park is scheduled to open in 2015.
But Disney is far from alone in pawing at the country's doors. With its massive population and burgeoning economy, China is of great and growing interest to entertainment companies. Two months ago, rival DreamWorks Animation unveiled its own joint venture with three Chinese companies, Oriental DreamWorks, which will create animated and feature films in the region. Many other Hollywood players have similar plans.
Entering the Chinese market does pose hurdles for Hollywood. In order to work there, companies have to partner with the government. They also must navigate the country's strict censorship rules and quotas on U.S.-made imports.
As the entertainment industry's interest has intensified, the Chinese government has loosened some of the barriers it imposes on foreign content. As part of a recent trade agreement, China said in February that it would increase the number of films allowed into the country by 50 percent.