Bliss Concepts, the Hong Kong animation house behind popular animated feature My Life As McDull, is producing a second film - Pineapple Bun Prince - which it plans to release in Hong Kong this Christmas.
The first McDull movie, directed by Toe Yuen and written by Brian Tse, recently scooped the top prize at France's Annecy animation festival and will be released in France next week (July 2) on around 50 screens. It was a surprise hit when it was released in Hong Kong in December 2001, grossing $1.9m (HK$14.6m) from 29 screens.
The second feature continues the adventures of McDull, an optimistic piglet that first came to life in a Hong Kong comic strip 13 years ago. Like the first feature, Pineapple Bun Prince will combine 2D and 3D animation. However, while the first film offered a child's eye view of growing up in Hong Kong, the second will also place McDull in a fantasy environment.
"Sometimes he'll be in Hong Kong and sometimes in a fantasy world that is both surreal and romantic," says McDull co-creator and illustrator Alice Mak.
My Life As McDull has impressed critics at several international film festivals and was picked up last year for worldwide distribution by Hong Kong-based Golden Network Asia. The film's reception overseas has confounded expectations as its humour draws heavily on local culture - including a song about a Hong Kong staple, steamed pork buns. However it seems to have struck a chord with international audiences.
"Children like the jokes and adults relate to it because it depicts reality," says director Toe Yuen. "There's a big contrast between McDull's 2D fantasy world and the 3D backgrounds which are dirty and noisy."
Although animated features are rare in Hong Kong, a second feature-length animation, Dragon Blade, is also nearing completion.
Produced by DCDC Productions, the martial arts fantasy is billed as Hong Kong's first 3D computer animated feature. Hong Kong's Centro Digital Pictures is also working on an animated feature, The Magic Brush, with backing from Miramax.